Rough Weeks Ahead For Health Care Bill

President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid remain optimis tic the Senate can wrap up the healthcare overhaul in time for Christmas, but few signs suggest that package will be ready in 2009.   

"I think it's going to pass out of the Senate before Christmas," Obama said during an interview aired Sunday on CBS News’s "60 Minutes." 

 The Senate will pick up the debate after taking a break to pass a spending bill to keep the government run ning.

But Reid (D-Nev.) will have to find a way to get 60 votes with Republicans united against the bill and members of his own party coming out against the bill. 

Two key centrists, Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), made clear over the weekend that they won’t support the latest ver sion of the healthcare legisla tion.   

Democrats are squabbling among themselves over promises the White House made to win the support of the pharmaceutical industry for reform.   

In addition, the Congres sional Budget Office (CBO) issued a harsh assessment of a proposal to mandate health insurance companies to spend at least 90% of their premium income on medical claims.  Such a requirement, the CBO concluded, would devastate the industry.   

Liberals in the Senate are feeling the leverage applied by a handful of centrists.   

"The reason it's so difficult is because every single Democrat and independent has to vote for it," Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-  W.Va.) said on CBS News’s "Face the Nation" Sunday.  

 ~  Jeffrey Young