Transcript: Sens. Chris Dodd and Lindsey Graham

It got pretty heated there on Friday afternoon. Let me show our viewers a little bit of your exchange with Senator McCain.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-ARIZ. I'll tell you, these hours have been a waste of time when we don't know what the bill costs and we don't know what the employer mandates are, and we don't know what the government option.

DODD: We can't run the numbers on it until we actually craft the language and give him something. So they...

MCCAIN: They've run the numbers...

(CROSSTALK) DODD: ... various ideas.

MCCAIN: ... and it's a trillion dollars, one-third insured.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Now, Senator Dodd, that was only a partial report by the Congressional Budget Office, but they did find it would cost a trillion dollars and you'd cover one-third of the uninsured, 16 million uninsured. Is that too high a price to pay?

DODD: Well, George, we're not done with this at all. If this were easy, it would have been done decades ago. Sixty years, the effort has been made to have a national health care program in this country.

But it's almost 50 million uninsured, and those who are insured paying prices they can't afford and going to escalate every day, 14,000 people a day lose their health insurance in the United States, 14,000 a day.

This is very hard. This is very difficult. But we're going to stick with it. We actually had a pretty good week in many ways. We did a lot of work, a lot of amendments were agreed to.

You've had AARP come out in favor of a House plan. You had the pharmaceutical companies look like they're going to reduce some $50 billion in cost. We're moving ahead. Max Baucus is moving ahead.

This is a difficult road, I'll be the first to admit it. Anyone who has been involved in this issue over the years will tell you that. But we're going to get there, in my view.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But, Senator, bottom line, how much is this going to cost and how many people are going to get covered? Because you talked about Senator Baucus, the Senate Finance Committee, they said to get to something close to universal coverage, it would be $1.6 trillion.

A lot of people had sticker shock over that as well.

DODD: Yes. We all do. And, look, we've got to make this accessible. We've got to make it a quality program. We've got to make sure we can bring down these costs. We can't consume 35 cents in every dollar as we could in the next 10 or 15, 20 years of our gross domestic product if we don't change the system, fundamentally alter it.

DODD: That's what the effort here is all about. We're basically saying look, if you like what you have, you can keep it. If you want, you choose your doctor, your hospital, your insurance coverage. That's fine, there's no one objecting to that whatsoever. But to focus on prevention, on quality, to dis-incentive a system where it rewards those who show up at hospitals and doctors offices instead of trying to keep people healthy. That's the effort we're involved in here.

And it's not say to do this, but we're working at it. The numbers come back. We've got to obviously have better numbers than the ones we've seen. And we need to cover a lot more people than we're seeing. That's what we've been working on all weekend, in fact. And we'll work on it again this week.

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