Transcript: Sens. McConnell and McCaskill

MCCASKILL: Well, I think what we'll do is we'll do a one-year fix that's paid for, and continue to work on ways that we can bring in these costs and make sure everything is paid for. But I think that Mitch McConnell is busy on politics instead of policy. I don't think that the vote last week should be any signal to America that we have lost the will to move forward and fix the ridiculously difficult and expensive health care dilemma we face in this country. And frankly, you can't be a deficit hawk -- you can't be a serious deficit hawk and not realize we've got to do something. Just continuing to do what we're doing now is going to put health care out of reach of most Americans within a decade.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, you say you're only going to do a one- year extension of this Medicare, of these Medicare payments to doctors. I assume (ph) that's going to make the American Medical Association pretty unhappy. Are you certain you're still going to have their support for the broader reform if you do that?

MCCASKILL: Well, I mean, everyone is, you know, what's really happening right now is there is a lot of misinformation out there. And as people learn more about what this insurance exchange is and the public option, they begin to realize that this is not an all- encompassing government plan. In fact, the only people, George, that have to participate in the insurance exchange are members of Congress. We have written all the bills that require members of Congress and their staffs to go to the insurance exchange to buy insurance. And that's where we hope some kind of public alternative will be, in order to bring down costs.

So, I think that the hospitals are worried. The doctors are worried. The insurance companies are worried. The pharmaceutical companies are worried. Some Americans are worried. That's because we're trying to fix something that's complicated, that has broad implications.

STEPHANOPOULOS: It's also...

MCCASKILL: I think, though, that the devil we know is much worse than what we're proposing to do.

STEPHANOPOULOS: It's also because of a little bit of lack of clarity on what exactly the Congress is going to do, and I want to zero in on this public option because you've had all these behind-the- scenes negotiations right now. What exactly is Senator Reid talking about on the public option right now?

STEPHANOPOULOS: The way it's been described to me is that you would have a national plan, but it would be a national plan that doesn't impose Medicare rates or Medicare plus 5 percent, but one has the power to negotiate with the private insurance companies, but it would also give any individual state the right to say, no, I don't want to be part of the national plan.

Is that what he's calling for now and is it something you can support?

MCCASKILL: I -- I think what we're going to end up with is having votes on a number of choices: the ability for states to opt in to some kind of not-for-profit plan; the ability for states to opt out of some kind of not-for-profit plan to compete with the private insurance companies on this exchange; and then the option to trigger a not-for-profit plan if the insurance companies don't manage to bring down costs within a certain period of time.

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