Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told me that the U.S. Senate will not "go down the government-run health care road" despite a new poll showing 72 percent of Americans want a government role in health care -- and are willing to pay higher taxes for it.
"The reason you're not going to have a government run health care pass the Senate is because it would be devastating for this country," Graham told me Sunday in an exclusive "This Week" interview.
"The last thing in the world I think Democrats and Republicans are going to do at the end of the day is create a government run health care system where you've got a bureaucrat standing in between the patient and the doctor. We've tried this model -- people have tried this model in other countries. The first thing that happens -- you have to wait for your care. And in socialized health care models, people have to wait longer to get care and the government begins to cut back on what's available because of the cost explosion."
Graham cited a Congressional Budget Office estimate of the draft Kennedy-Dodd health care bill costing $1 trillion to cover one-third of Americans.
"The CBO estimates were a death blow to a government run health care plan, Graham told me, "The finance committee has abandoned that. We do need to deal with inflation in health care, private and public inflation, but we're not going to go down to the government owning health care road in America and I think that's the story of this week. There's been a bipartisan rejection of that."
However Graham left the door open on a co-op proposal floated by Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D.
Debating Graham on "This Week" Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., who is filling in for Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., as the Obama administration's point person in the Senate on the health reform legislation, argued the public option isn't dead, despite widespread opposition from Republicans and some Democrats in Congress.
"I'm delighted to hear Lindsey talk about the possibility of having something like a co-op and non-profits," Dodd told me, "I happen to support a public option, I don't think you can bring down costs without it. If there isn't some competition out there to drive down the overall cost -- costs have gone up 86 percent since '96, 1996. Forty-five percent might stay the loan, increase in health care cost. The American average working family can't afford this. A family of four now it's $12,000. We're being told in 20 years, it could be half the gross income of a family spent on health care premiums. That is just unacceptable."
Dodd blasted Republicans for labeling the public option as "socialized medicine."
"No one I know is for socialized medicine. We're going to develop a U.S. plan, not a Canadian or a U.K. plan, one that meets our needs in our country. It's designed for Americans, by Americans, that isn't socialized medicine. But you've got to drive down these costs. We need quality, accessible health care in bringing down those costs are absolutely critical, or we're going to bankrupt the country. It's unsustainable. That's why we're at the table," Dodd told me.