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Dean: Senate Health Care Compromise a "Positive Step"

The new health care compromise isn't perfect but it represents a "positive step forward," former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean said on CBS' "The Early Show" Wednesday.

Liberals appear ready to drop their demands for a public option in order to assuage moderate Democrats and get the 60 votes needed to avoid a Republican filibuster. The revamped legislation would reportedly set up a private insurance plan overseen by the same government agency that controls lawmakers' insurance. It would also expand Medicare, lowering the qualifying age from 65 to 55.

Dean, who previously chaired the Democratic National Committee, said Medicare expansion "makes a lot of sense because you don't have to reinvent another bureaucracy to do it." Special Report: Health Care Reform

"This is what should have been done in the first place," he told "Early Show" co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez, who noted that Dean had insisted in August that reform must include a public option.

Dean said the compromise solution still represents "real reform."

"Whatever we call it is irrelevant. Is it going to work? Yes, it is."

The group of five liberal Democrats and five moderates have agreed to submit the revised proposal to the Congressional Budget Office to assess how it will affect the overall cost. Dean acknowledged that "there's not much cost control in this bill" but expressed confidence that "it's going to happen later on."

Even if the Senate passes the legislation, further tweaking would be needed to reconcile their bill with the House's version, which includes the public option. Dean predicted a "reasonable compromise" between the two bodies.

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