Big Hurdles Remain for Health Care Reform

The battle over health care reform entered a new phase after a critical Senate vote Saturday night. Senators cleared the way for floor debate by a vote of 60 to 39. They needed at least 60 votes to prevent a filibuster.

But there's no guarantee there will be 60 votes on hand to defeat a filibuster of the actual bill, as CBS News correspondent Kimberley Dozier reports from Washington.

Late Saturday night, the Democrats got the votes they needed to launch the health care debate in the Senate. But now the fight really begins.

Special Report: Health Care Reform

"We can only see the finish line; we have not yet crossed it," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. "The road ahead will be the toughest stretch."

The republicans are promising the road will be a long one.

"The Senate's not like the House," said Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. "They had three votes on one day and it was over."

Senate debates can take weeks. Reid will need 60 votes again to actually pass the final version of the bill. It could look very different after senators add amendments.

And he's got to win over some of his own party to do it.

"If there are a whole host of other items that are the same as they are right now, I wouldn't vote to get it off the floor," said Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., a centrist Democrat who has pushed back against the reform effort.

Nelson is one of three Democratic senators who waited until hours before the yesterday's vote to agree to start this debate. They all say they have serious concerns about the bill's nearly $850 billion cost over 10 years, and about the public option - a government provided insurance plan.

Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman -who voted with the democrats yesterday - says he won't vote for a final bill that includes the public option.

"I don't think anybody feels this bill will pass," he said.

For the bill's supporters, those are fighting words.

"We're not going to let four senators stand in our way," said Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.

But the math means they have to find some way to bring the democratic doubters on board - or win over some Republicans.

Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe could hold the key. She has proposed a compromise, where a public option would only be triggered as a safety net, on a state-by-state basis. Under her plan, at least 95 percent of a state's residents must have an affordable option - or the state has to create one.

"This will provide the certainty that affordable options exist so that no one falls between the cracks," Snowe said.

And it could deliver her vote, as well as the three doubting Democrats.

White House officials point out that the president himself is on record signaling openness to a trigger option. An administration official today would only say they expect to be working with senator Snowe, and many other senators, in the weeks to come.