Senator Lindsey Graham became the latest Republican and most conservative Senator yet to express a willingness to consider a compromise approach to health care reform based around co-ops providing insurance coverage.
The South Carolina Republican, appearing on ABC's "This Week," set a firm line in the sand when discussing the creation of a public option for insurance, insisting that such a proposal would not pass the United States Senate.
"The reason you are not going to have a government-run health care pass the Senate is because it will be devastating for this country," he said. "The last thing in the world I think that Democrats and Republicans will do at the end of the day is create a government-run health care system."
Later in the program, however, Graham offered what his co-panelist Sen. Chris Dodd and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich (who appeared later in the show) both viewed as openness to compromise. A system of state-based co-ops -- which would be run as non-profit entities, subject to private insurance rules, and operating out of the premiums paid by its members -- could be an adequate substitute for a public plan, he said.
"I think this idea needs to go away," Graham said of a public plan, "and replace it with something maybe like [Senator] Kent Conrad's proposal."
Obama May Lack Votes for Health-Care, Feinstein Says
President Barack Obama may not have enough votes in the U.S. Senate to pass his effort to overhaul the nation’s health-care system, California Democrat Dianne Feinstein said.
“I don’t know that he has the votes right now,” Feinstein said today on CNN’s “State of the Union” program. “I think there’s a lot of concern in the Democratic caucus.” Controlling costs of the new system is a “difficult subject.”
Republican Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana said on the same program that the overhaul should be done slowly, and not this year, to ensure it doesn’t “threaten the basic structure of the economy.”
Congress is working to meet an October deadline that Obama, a Democrat, set for signing the legislation into law. As a presidential candidate he pledged to expand coverage to the 46 million people who lack health insurance while lowering the cost of a system of care that makes up 17 percent of the economy.
Iowa Republican Senator Charles Grassley said on CNN that the Senate Finance Committee is “dialing down some of our expectations” of the legislation in response to an estimate by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office that earlier options under consideration would cost $1.6 trillion.
“Our goal is affordability,” said Grassley, who is the top-ranked Republican on the finance panel.
Senators from both parties are wary of health-care overhaul because of the $1.6 trillion cost estimate, Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, said on ABC’s “This Week” program today. The budget office calculation “was a death blow to government-run health care plan,” he said.
Democratic senators are “running away from the government- run health care where the bureaucrat stands between the doctor and the patient,” Graham said. The Finance Committee “has abandoned” the plan, he said.
Democratic Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania said the idea of delaying action on the legislation until next year is a mistake.
The last thing the American people “want us to do is to wait and delay for 2010 or 2011, because this is the economic threat to our country,” Casey said. “If we don’t get this right and get it done, American families are going to pay far too much.”
Most Americans are willing to pay higher taxes so everyone can have health insurance and back a government-run insurance plan to compete with private insurers, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll. The poll of 895 adults conducted June 12-16 had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.