(CNSNews.com) - Democrats have no intention of doing anything that would “substantially change” Obamacare, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said on Sunday.
He described Obamacare as a "placeholder" for the eventual move to single-payer health care, which Sen. Bernie Sanders and other liberals are plugging.
Prospects for passing the latest Republican health care bill dimmed over the weekend, with at least three Republicans either opposed to it or leaning in that direction.
One of them is Sen. John McCain of Arizona, Graham's best friend in the Senate.
"It's not about our friendship," Graham told ABC's "This Week." "I love John McCain. He's an American hero. He is my dear friend. I just disagree with him here.
"My state had a 31 percent premium increase under Obamacare. If we don't repeal and replace, it's a disaster for South Carolina and Arizona. John talks about a bipartisan process. I'm a pretty bipartisan guy.
“But I've come to conclude that Obamacare is a placeholder for Berniecare in the Democratic world. There -- the best you could hope for is to prop up Obamacare, because they're moving toward Berniecare. So there is no process,” Graham said.
"There's not a snowball's chance in Hill Bend, Arizona, as John would say, that Chuck Schumer can deliver anything that would substantially change Obamacare. And if it doesn't substantially change, it's a disaster for the country."
Graham said he's not giving up on passing his bill: "The only way you'll know how people vote is when you actually vote," he said.
"So, yes, we're moving forward. And we'll see what happens next week. I'm very excited about it.
“We finally found an alternative to ObamaCare that makes sense -- take the money and power out of Washington, the same amount of money we would have spent on ObamaCare, and let states design the systems, because if you keep replicating ObamaCare, even at the state level, you're going to get the same outcome.
"Flexibility and innovation is what we're seeking," Graham said.
The senator told "This Week" he's not the least bit surprised that the insurance companies oppose his bill:
"I think it's quite extraordinary to believe that the insurance companies who receive hundreds of billions of dollars of direct payment from the federal government would willingly allow that money to be given to state governments to design new and innovative systems," he said.
"So the fact that insurance companies are objecting to the fact they no longer get direct payments from the federal government, the same amount of money goes to states to set up new health care systems that won't fail, doesn't surprise me.
“I would have been surprised if these people were for our bill, because we take money away from them, we give it to state governments to design systems that will deliver a better outcome.”
Graham noted that the current system “is collapsing all over the place. The big winners are hospitals and people who get direct payments from the government. I want to take that block of money, give it to governors at the state level. And if you don't like what you get under Obamacare, who do you complain to? Under our bill, if you don't like the health care you're receiving, you can complain to your statehouse member, to your governor, who cares about you, because they want your vote.
Graham said if his bill doesn't pass by Sept. 30, he's not giving up:
"I'm on the Budget Committee. Ron Johnson is on the Budget Committee. We're not going to vote for a budget resolution that doesn't allow the health care debate to continue."