WASHINGTON (CNN) – A close personal friend of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy said Sunday that the Massachusetts lawmaker’s death ought to act as an inspiration for Democrats and the entire Senate to set aside partisan differences and pass health care legislation.
“We ought to sit down together and work it out and go through this” Connecticut Democrat Sen. Christopher Dodd said on CNN’s State of the Union a day after Kennedy’s funeral. “That’s what we do in the Senate. That’s how things move forward. . . . The country cannot afford this any longer. We need to have a health care plan in this country that’s accessible, affordable, and quality. And how we get there is the challenge before us. And we must meet that challenge. ”
Pointing out that Kennedy introduced his first piece of health care reform legislation roughly 40 years ago, Dodd also said that his friend would be “terribly disappointed” if partisan politics dominated the debate over fixing the nation’s health care system.
“He expected more of us and I think we can meet that expectation and I’m confident we can,” Dodd told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King.
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Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, also a close friend of Kennedy’s, suggested that the partisan gulf between the two parties on health care may be too wide to bridge.
Getting a bill passed is “going to take a lot of work,” Hatch said Sunday. The Republican also said it was “crazy” to try to squeeze money out of the Medicare program in order to help fund broader health care reform including a hotly contested public health insurance option.