Setanta, you have a surprising lack of understanding of politics or of recent history.
First... your use of the word "partisan" in a discussion of politics shows real ignorance-- as if there is anything in politics that isn't partisan.
Second, the rules about what is "existing" law, etc. or what it means to bring spending, revenues etc into conformity is open to interpretation. The interpretation used to determine which parts of the healthcare reform bill fall under this category is (ironically) determined by a simple majority meaning that 51 votes in the senate prevail (yes there are complexities under Byrd et. al.)
Third, reconciliation has been used before, by the Republicans, for example to try to get drilling in ANWR.
There is no question that the Democrats are able to do this. In fact, a member of the Gang of Six (the Senators trying to bang out a bipartison deal) has already said this is an option, and Republican Senators are already whining about it. There is a question about whether this is politically foolish.
If it comes to this, the battle will be over public opinion.
You will remember a similar debate over the "nuclear option". Even if it comes down to some compromise, the ability of the Democrats to use Budget Reconciliation will doubtless play into any negotiation.
But the fact remains. If there are 51 Senators willing to vote through health care reform through Budget Reconciliation, then 51 Senators is all it will take.