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Democrats to Hold Special Caucus Monday

Updated: 12:55 p.m.

Senate Democrats plan to meet Monday at 5:30 p.m. for another special caucus on health care reform, as Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) moves to overcome a fresh resistance from within his own ranks over the legislation.

Sources say the subject of the Senators’ meeting will be the potential compromise to the public insurance option negotiated by a group of 10 liberal and moderate Democrats. The discussion is also set to include the path forward on health care generally. Reid, who wants to pass a bill by Christmas, is hoping to begin the cloture process this week.

Some Senators who negotiated the potential public insurance option compromise continued over the weekend to back away from the deal even as the Congressional Budget Office has yet to complete its work on a cost estimate, putting Reid in a bind just 10 days before the Senate is scheduled to adjourn for Christmas.

The Democratic Conference held a special caucus last week to discuss the potential public option compromise, but few details were revealed to rank-and-file Members. The plan would drop the creation of a national, government-run insurance company in favor of a Medicare buy-in for individuals ages 55 to 64.

The deal would also expand Medicaid and create a national marketplace of private insurance plans managed by the federal Office of Personnel Management. Moderate Democrats remain skeptical of the compromise. Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.), an informal member of the group of 10, informed Reid over the weekend he cannot support the Medicare buy-in provision and said he would filibuster any legislation that contains it.

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