Sen. Lindsey Graham said Friday that he believed Obamacare was designed to collapse in order to set the stage for a government-led, single-payer program.
"It was designed to make sure that employers would drop coverage because it's too expensive, that exchanges would fail and the government would come in and take over and you'd have single payer healthcare," Graham, R-S.C., said on the Mike Gallagher radio show, answering questions provided by the Washington Examiner.
Graham was answering a question about why he appears to have changed his position on ways to repeal and replace Obamacare. On Thursday, he introduced a bill with Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., that would send revenue from Obamacare's taxes to states so they can use it to create their own health plans.
Previously, he said he believes President Trump should let Obamacare collapse by not paying out Obamacare's cost-sharing reduction subsidies, which help insurers reduce out of pocket costs for low-income customers. Without the funds, insurers would look to exit the exchanges as soon as they are able or raise premiums.
When asked about his new bill, Graham said he saw there were better ways to address the issues Obamacare is facing. Instead of propping up the insurance market with federal dollars, he said, he wants to instead give that money to governors.
"If you do what I'm talking about, there will never be single payer," Graham said.
Graham and Cassidy discussed their bill the same day GOP senate leaders unveiled the second draft of the Senate healthcare bill to repeal and replace parts of Obamacare, the Better Care Reconciliation Act. Graham later told reporters that his bill could be added to the leadership's legislation as an amendment. Graham said he thought the new version of the Senate GOP's healthcare plan was better than the previous version.
"I'm not trying to undercut Mitch, I'll support Mitch's proposal," Graham said, referring to the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, who has been trying to cobble together enough votes to pass the Better Care Reconciliation Act.
Graham said that to get the bill passed, it was important to get governors on board. He said three governors have called him over the course of the last day to discuss their support for his provision with Cassidy.
Graham already suggested he was on board with the Better Care Reconciliation Act, citing an amendment backed by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. The legislation would set up a fund that would make payments to insurers to help cover the cost of high-risk, disproportionately expensive customers who are enrolled in the exchange. To qualify, an insurer would need to offer minimum coverage that has a wide range of medical benefits and cover people with pre-existing illnesses. They could offer coverage off the exchange that would be exempt from nine requirements.
"If you're 22 and you don't want to buy a big, loaded up policy, you can buy something more tailored to you and your time in life that's cheaper, and that's a good thing," he said.