Laura Litvan and Kristin Jensen
Tuesday, Dec 15th, 2009

Senate Democrats said they are leaning toward passing a health-care overhaul plan without a new government-run insurance program or an expansion of the Medicare program for the elderly.

The party has been divided on how best to cover tens of millions of uninsured Americans. Many liberal Democrats have long pushed for a so-called public option run by the government to compete with private insurers. A more recent proposal would have let people as young as 55 years of age enroll in Medicare.

Lacking the votes for either idea, Democrats said they are focusing on what they can do to pass the legislation by the end of the year. The bill is President Barack Obama’s top domestic priority and he summoned all the Senate Democrats to the White House to discuss it today.

“There is enough good stuff in that bill that we should move ahead with it,” Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, chairman of the Senate health committee, told reporters yesterday.

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