Transcript: Sebelius, Specter and Hatch

That was before Senator Schumer, for example, has come out with some specifics on a government option. And the government option, according to his plan, is going to maintain a level playing field. And the option is not going to force out the private sector.

And I think competition is good. And it is just an option, oneof many alternatives with a government option.

TAPPER: And, Senator Hatch, you were at the negotiating table in the Senate -- with the Senate Finance Committee members talking about a bipartisan solution. You walked away, saying you didn't think that a bipartisan solution, you could sign off on it.

But let me ask you a question, because obviously one of thebig...

HATCH: No, that isn't what I said. That isn't what I said.

TAPPER: Well, tell me what -- tell me why you walked away.

HATCH: I still think -- I still think we should have a bipartisan solution, but what I can't tolerate is a government plan. And there's no way you can make it coequal, have a government be on an equal playing field, because -- because they have -- the government basically -- if we turn over this -- this country's health care to a government plan, and we open up a government plan, the Lewin Group, one of the best analytical groups in -- in health care in the country, if not the best, said that up to 119.1 million people would transfer from private insurance into the government plan.

TAPPER: Well, Senator -- Senator Hatch...

HATCH: If that happens...

TAPPER: ... we should point out, first of all, that the Lewin Group is owned by UnitedHealthcare, although they -- they insist...

(CROSSTALK)

HATCH: Fine. But they're still highly respected.

TAPPER: Yes, I'm not disputing that.

HATCH: They're highly respected.

TAPPER: But let me ask you a question. You are one of the chief co-sponsors of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, bringing health insurance through the government to millions of children. You've been heralded for that by liberals. At the time you introduced it, then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott accused you of creating big government. What's the difference between the SCHIP program on a theoretical basis, in terms of getting the government involved, and what you're now talking against?

HATCH: The way it was originally designed, it was the Hatch- Kennedy bill. We wrote it together. And I have to say that that plan basically provided block grants to the states for the states, according to their own demographics, to set up their own Children's Health Insurance Program. It worked amazingly well until -- until the liberals started to push more and more Medicaid -- more and moreMedicaid people into the CHIP program and started to expand the CHIP program in ways that were never contemplated.

We did CHIP for the only -- for the kids -- the only kids left out of the health care system, children of the working poor. Now it's being used to push Medicaid people into it.

And everything the Democrats are doing is pushing towards what's called a single-payer system, where the government basically controls everything. And this public plan, this public government plan, don't think for a minute that that will not destroy the current insurance system.

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