Crist says he would not scrap entire health bill

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R) said Friday night that he would not scrap every piece of the Democrats' healthcare reform bill but did not identify a part of it he likes.

Crist, who is in a tough Senate primary match-up with former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio (R), told the Palm Beach Post editorial board Friday night that he would get rid of parts of the bill but would not start from scratch as Republican leaders have said they would like to do.

He said:

There may be parts of it that you don’t have to scrap. There are three parts of it that I would like to see scrapped: It would raise taxes significantly, it would raise rates significantly and it would take half-a-trillion dollars out of Medicare.

 I think the real issue here, as it relates to health care, is that people want it to not cost so much and people want to have access to it. I think there is a consensus of agreement that the health care that is delivered in America is good. But it’s not easy to get it and it’s too expensive when you do get it.

Republicans have called on Democrats to start from scratch since they finalized their healthcare proposals late last year. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) echoed that call in the weekly GOP address Saturday and Republican leaders spent much of the White House healthcare summit on Thursday calling on Democrats to start over.

But when he was asked if there were any parts of the bill he liked, Crist said:

I don’t think a whole lot. Watching the discussion yesterday [Thursday] you get a chance to sort of see more of it be ferreted out. You know, I’m the kind of guy … I’m pragmatic. The stimulus is a great example. We needed the money. Every other Republican governor took it, too. I was just maybe a little more honest and straight forward about it. Well, shame on me for being honest. But, you know, as it relates to health care, if there are good ideas, I’m willing to look at them. And I would take that same approach to any issue in Washington.

Asked again if there were any parts he liked he said:

Not at present. No.

Rubio, who is challenging Crist from the right, pounced on Crist's comments. 

“Once again, Charlie Crist has shown why Floridians can't trust him to go to Washington and stand up to the misguided agenda of President Obama and Congressional Democrats," he said in a statement.

To Crist's credit, he did criticize parts of the bill but he did not repudiate the entire bill as most Republicans have.