McCain: 'Abandon the public option'

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said in an interview aired Sunday that President Barack Obama needed to come back to the drawing board on health reform and consider abandoning the government-run public option.

The former Republican presidential candidate noted that Americans' confidence was falling in polls, and that it would be a "good idea" for Obama to sit down with Republicans and Democrats and present his own plan, which could then be negotiated upon.

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"There are some areas that we're in agreement on," McCain said, such as cost control.

But to pass health reform, McCain predicted, "I think he'd have to abandon the public option."

McCain also addressed the "death panel" controversy stirred by his former running mater, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, saying it wasn't so much about Medicare end-of-life consultations as it was about boards ruling on treatment options for patients.

"The way that it was written made that a bit ambiguous," McCain said, adding that such boards could "lead to the possibility of rationing and decisions such as those made in other countries."

McCain questioned why Democrats turned down GOP amendments to ensure that boards wouldn't deny the best treatment procedures to patients.

The senator also said healthcare reform "might be in a very different place today" if his colleague on immigration reform, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), was back in the mix.

"No person in that insitution is indispensable, but Ted Kennedy comes as close to being indispensable as any individual in that institution," McCain said.

Obama's onetime challenger spoke with ABC's George Stephanopoulos on a segment of "This Week" from the Grand Canyon. McCain, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, and Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) are holding a series of hearings in the region on the future of the national parks.