ABC News' Z. Byron Wolf reports:
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz, called on President Obama and Democrats in Congress to "scrap the current [healthcare] bill and start over."
McCain pointed to a nonpartisan cost estimate of $1 trillion over ten years for the major portion of healthcare reform suggested in a bill floated by Sen. Edward Kennedy's Health Committee and said the cost was too high for American taxpayers, especially since the nonpartisan review foresaw $23 million would lose their current insurance plans under the proposal.
"How we going to pay for that, Mr. President.," asked McCain on the senate floor. "How are we going to pay for that?"
The cost estimate for the Kennedy committee bill was prepared by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which is also preparing a separate cost estimate for a different healthcare reform proposal being prepared by the Senate Finance Committee.
"The CBO letter should be a wakeup call for all of us to scrap the current bill and start over," said McCain. "Start over in a true bipartisan fashion," said McCain, although his idea for healthcare reform would not find much support among Democrats.
McCain also addressed Jake Tapper's report that stiff cost estimate – which McCain thinks is low-ball – has the White House distancing itself from Kennedy's health committee plan.
"Well where is the administration's bill?" asked a frustrated McCain. "We're supposed to be enacting legislation before the end of July. Where is the administration's bill?"
McCain called for giving all Americans a $5,000 tax credit to purchase insurance on the open market. And he suggested lifting bans intended to protect some state health insurance quality requirements that keep people in one state from buying health insurance sponsored in other states.
CBO's $1 trillion estimate for the health committee plan does not include the implementation of a public health insurance option that seems likely to be a part of Democrats' ultimate healthcare plan. Most of the Republican opposition to the healthcare reform proposed by Democrats has centered around that public plan.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has given daily speeches on the Senate floor blasting the public option for weeks.
Meanwhile, Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin gave a spirited defense of creating a public insurance option to go alongside private plans operating in the marketplace. He and other Democrats have been trying out a new line of argument – that Republicans, in attacking the creation of a public health care option are endorsing the status quo.
"So if we do nothing," Durbin said. "If we ignore this reality, we are doomed to face a situation where more and more of the dollars that we earn as employees will go toward health care protection and health care insurance and the protection there was diminish each year because that's the other reality. as the cost of health insurance goes up each year, the coverage goes down. people know what I'm talking about. when the health insurance company say, oh, we've got a great plan for you, but incidentally, you remember that cancer test you had last year? we won't cover anything related to cancer in the future."