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McCain rejects 'big government' takeover of health care

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  • NEW: Democrats say McCain offering continuation of Bush's health care policies
  • Presumptive GOP nominee says rejects "big government" solution
  • McCain wants to put "families" in charge of their own health care
  • Arizona Republican challenges doctors, insurers to lower costs
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(CNN) -- Sen. John McCain on Monday rejected a "big government" takeover of the health care system, saying he wants to empower families to make more medical decisions.

"I've made it very clear that what I want is for families to make decisions about their health care, not government, and that's the fundamental difference between myself and Sen. Obama and Sen. Clinton," McCain told reporters in Miami, Florida, referring to the two remaining Democratic presidential candidates, Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

"They want the government to make the decisions, I want the families to make decisions," he said.

During a speech at the Miami Children's Hospital in Miami, Florida, McCain said he was ready to take on the "parochial interests" in health care and challenged doctors, hospitals, drug manufactures and insurance providers to do a better job of holding down costs.

"We must move away from a system that is fragmented and pays for expensive procedures, toward one where a family has a medical home, providers coordinate their efforts and take advantage of technology to do so cheaply, and where the focus is on affordable quality outcomes," McCain said during a speech at the Miami Children's Hospital in Miami, Florida. Video Watch McCain call for families to make decisions »

McCain said that health care in the U.S. was "too expensive" and called the more than $2 trillion the nation spends annually on health care "staggering."

"These costs are a threat to the ability of Americans to have health insurance, the gateway to better health care. These costs are a threat as well to the ability of American workers to build a better life," he said. "Rising costs of health care and health insurance have squeezed the wages that workers earn and consumed the budgets of their families."

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The presumptive Republican presidential nominee rejected a single-payer system to lower health care costs, saying similar systems in other countries force "real people [to] pay a deeper cost through long waits for treatment or settling for care that does not take advantage of the latest medical science."

Instead, McCain promised to work to transform the health care system by putting "families in charge."

"We must reform the health care system to make it responsive to the needs of American families -- not the government, not the insurance companies, not tort lawyers, not even the doctors and hospitals," McCain said.

The solution, McCain said, "isn't a one-size-fits-all-big government takeover" but "with the American people themselves." Video Watch McCain say he opposes insurance mandates »

"We have always trusted in ourselves to meet any challenge that required only our ingenuity and industry to surmount," the Arizona Republican said. "Any solution that robs us of that essential sense of ourselves is a cure far worse than the affliction it is meant to treat."

After McCain delivered his speech, the Democratic National Committee criticized McCain for "promising four more years of the Bush health care agenda."

"John McCain would continue to deny our children health care and has no plan to address the skyrocketing costs that are devastating American families," DNC chairman Howard Dean said in a statement.

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"We've already had eight long years of huge deficits, failed leadership and misplaced priorities," Dean said. "We don't need four more. John McCain is the wrong choice for America's future."

McCain's speech comes a day before he is expected to unveil details of his health care proposal. His potential Democratic rivals, Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, have already outlined detailed policy papers on health care. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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