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Bernie Sanders May Not Vote for Health Bill

As leaders in the White House and the Senate work to make the Democratic health care bill acceptable for moderates like Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), a couple of their left wing counterparts are threatening to revoke their support for the reform package.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, the liberal Independent from Vermont, said on Wednesday that he cannot accept the bill as it is currently shaping up because it does not control costs or rein in health insurance companies.

"I'm struggling with this," Sanders said Wednesday evening on Fox News. "As of this point, I'm not voting for the bill… I'm going to do my best to make this bill a better bill, a bill that I can vote for, but I've indicated both to the White House and the Democratic leadership that my vote is not secure at this point."

"When the public option was withdrawn, because of Lieberman's action, what I worry about is how do you control escalating health care costs?" Sanders said, echoing comments from some other liberal health reform advocates like Howard Dean. "How do you give competition to the private insurance companies who are raising rates, premium rates outrageously every year, who's only function in life is to make as much money as they can?"

Meanwhile, Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.), who filled the Senate seat left vacant when President Obama took office, could complicate Senate Democrats' plans as well. He said on the Senate floor earlier this week that he is committed to voting for a bill that "achieves the goals of the public option."

"My colleagues may have forged a compromise bill that can achieve the 60 votes that will be needed for it to pass," he said. "But until this bill addresses cost, competition and accountability in a meaningful way, it will not win mine."

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