Transcript: John McCain

STEPHANOPOULOS: He met with a group of bipartisan negotiators on Senate Finance Committee.

MCCAIN: But the now the time I think is to come with the leadership and with others, at least try to sit down and see. There's so many areas that we are in agreement on. All of us agree that health care costs are out of control and we have to bring them under control.

So maybe it would be a good idea for us to sit down and after consultation and agreement, the president could say here's the health care plan that I want passed through the Congress. At least we ought to try it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you think start fresh?

MCCAIN: Well, at least sit down – well through this debate, at least we know what we agree on. We know we need more competition. We know we need more accessibility. We know we've got to provide an opportunity for every American to acquire health insurance.

We know that there are many things that we are in …

STEPHANOPOULOS: Would you agree to the kind of insurance reforms the president's talking about? That you can't be denied health insurance for a pre-existing condition, you can't lose it if you get sick?

MCCAIN: You can't be denied it and certainly if you have it, you shouldn't have to lose it. but under the president's plan, you would have to lose it in my view because of the government option. I believe that one of the fundamentals for any agreement would be that the president abandon the government option that may be hard …

STEPHANOPOULOS: No pun intended.

MCCAIN: … yes, excuse me, the public option. I think he'd have to abandon the public option and that I think is what a lot of Americans now are concerned about.

STEPHANOPOULOS: If he does you're willing to sit down and talk about insurance reforms and agree to that?

MCCAIN: I think that Republicans are more than agreeable to sit down and talk about various reforms. And by the way, one of them is to jump this deal that they made with pharma, which is terrible that the pharmaceutical companies have made a deal, which basically protects their profits.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The president also says that the debate has been infected by falsehoods. And probably the most notorious one is the one made by your former running mate, Sarah Palin, who said that his bill would encourage death panels that would encourage euthanasia. He called that an extraordinary lie and he is right about that, isn't he?

MCCAIN: Well, I think that what we are talking about here is do – are we going to have groups that actually advise people as these decisions are made later in life and …

STEPHANOPOULOS: That's not in the bill.

MCCAIN: But – it's been taken out, but the way that it was written made it a little bit ambiguous. And another thing …

STEPHANOPOULOS: I don't think that's correct, Senator. The bill, all it said was that, if a patient wanted to have a Medicare consultation about end-of-life issues, they could have it at their request and the doctor would get reimbursed for it, no panel …

MCCAIN: There was a provision in the bill that talks about a board that would decide the most effective measures to provide health care for people, OK? Now, we had amendments, we republican have said that in no way would that affect the decisions that the patients would make and their families. That was rejected by the Democrats and the health committee.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But that's not a death panel.

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