Reps. Nadler & Shadegg Debate Health Care

Reps. Nadler & Shadegg Debate Health Care

By Lou Dobbs Tonight - July 30, 2009

DOBBS: Joining me now to debate whether the president's plan will improve health care and lower costs, two congressmen with two very different views, as you want to happen with a debate. Congressman John Shadegg. He is Republican of Arizona. The congressman says the plan will not lower health care costs.

Good to have you with us.

Congressman Jerrold Nadler. He's Democrat in New York. He says he supports the president's plan.

Gentlemen, good to have you with us. Let's turn to the first issue.

First, I just would like to understand, Congressman Nadler, is this deadline, was it the people's deadline, was it the president's deadline, or is Senator Harry Reid absolutely right that the media imposed that deadline of the August recess?

REP. JERROLD NADLER (D), NEW YORK: No, I think the only real deadline is that we should do it in this Congress by the end of the year. Certainly, it would have been nice to have a bill pass both houses by the end of the recess, but the real fact that stopped it was that it was -- it even had the Commerce Committee voted out a bill a week ago. It takes about two weeks to unite the three bills, to get a score from the Congressional Budget Office, to go through the Rules Committee, put the proper notices. Just mechanically, it could happen.

DOBBS: So not happening. Congressman Shadegg, do you think the poll numbers, the American people in every single poll are rejecting health care as it stands right now and presented by this administration. The president's poll ratings are down. Is that playing a role, or is that irrelevant to the course of events for health care legislation?

REP. JOHN SHADEGG (R), ARIZONA: I think his poll numbers are down in part because of the bill itself. This bill is old think. President Obama got elected promising change. He said he was going to make Washington very different, get out the old forces and the old partisanship, and bring a new kind of view of the world to Washington.

I'm very sympathetic to that, even though I'm a Republican, but this bill is old think. Instead of bringing reform from the bottom up, empowering people and enabling them, enabling people with a pre- existing condition to get health care at the same cost as everybody else, covering all Americans, and empowering the average American to be able to buy their own health care plan, and those who don't have the money to buy it with some assistance from the government, this goes back to the way Washington always works. It's top-down, bureaucrat-heavy, and it's all kind of Washington (inaudible) control everything.

NADLER: With all due respect, that's a tissue of falsehoods from beginning to end.

SHADEGG: Oh, no it's not.


NADLER: I've read the bill. First of all, the president campaigned very specifically on this bill. Not the bill number, but the contents in the bill were gone through exhaustively in the Democratic primary between Hillary and Edwards and the president, and they all agreed, more or less, on it. And second of all, in the general election. This was debated. And what this bill says is, you can keep your current insurance...


NADLER: Let me finish, please. You can keep your...

SHADEGG: It's (inaudible) actually the exact opposite.

DOBBS: Gentlemen.

NADLER: You can keep your current insurance, especially if you're employed by your employer, but it will put requirements on the insurance companies. It will say no more conditions that you can't get insurance for pre-existing health care. No more out-of-pocket expenses above $5,000 a year for a single person or $10,000 a year for a family, even if you have a health catastrophe. If you lose your job, you'll be able to go and buy a new insurance policy, regardless of pre-existing conditions from private insurance companies, or from a public option.

DOBBS: Congressman Shadegg?

SHADEGG: The bill specifically says that every existing insurance plan in America, whether it comes from an employer or whether you buy it in the individual market, must change within five years. It grandfathers them, but only for five years. And at the end...

NADLER: The only change it mandates is that they can't refuse you coverage...


DOBBS: I promise you, you'll get plenty of time.

SHADEGG: No later than five years, it must meet literally dozens of federal requirements, not state requirements like they used to, but new federal requirements, many of which have been -- will have been created by a board that doesn't even exist yet.


DOBBS: Congressmen, I promise you both there will be plenty of time. I've just been -- well, I am just utterly wrong. Because we've just been given a two-minute warning. Sergeant James Crowley is going to be speaking before the cameras. I apologize.

NADLER: The requirements on these policies are exactly what I said they would be.

SHADEGG: No, they're not, Jerry.

NADLER: Namely...


NADLER: Namely, that they can't deny... SHADEGG: Every plan must change within five years...

NADLER: Sir, are you going to allow me to talk at all? Namely that they can't deny pre-existing coverage. They can't have...

SHADEGG: We're agreeing on pre-existing conditions. I said that to begin with. Don't misrepresent the bill.

NADLER: I am not misrepresenting the bill.

SHADEGG: Yes, you are.

NADLER: That's what the bill says.

SHADEGG: Read the language of the bill...

NADLER: I have read the language...

SHADEGG: It says every plan must change in five years, Jerry.

NADLER: Yes, within five years, they have to meet these requirements that I'm saying.

SHADEGG: Thank you.

DOBBS: Let me ask you, that being the case, and as we look at these poll numbers, on the handling of health care policy, Congressman Nadler, the president's approval rating, you all are going to be going back to your home districts there in Congress. There is, obviously, given these polls, there is great anxiety and concern and opposition right now to health care legislation.

NADLER: There is a great deal of falsehoods and lies being spread about this bill by the Republicans and by other interest groups, by the insurance companies who don't want to have to not to -- not discriminate against people based on...


NADLER: ... based on pre-existing conditions. There's a lot of money being spent against it. I think -- and the president's popularity is down not because of this, I think, but because of the economy generally.

But I think when people go home and they hear more -- when the members of Congress go home and they explain what's in this bill, which is essentially what the president promised during the campaign last year...

SHADEGG: A fine on businesses as small as two employees?

NADLER: There is not going to be a fine on employees...

SHADEGG: I welcome the American people learning what's in the bill.

NADLER: There's not going to be a fine...

SHADEGG: Yes, Jerry, there is. There is a fine on...

NADLER: No, there isn't. There isn't. There's no fine on small businesses. What there is, is...

SHADEGG: You obviously have not read this bill, Jerry. There's a fine on any small business...

NADLER: On the contrary.

SHADEGG: ... even down to two employees, if they do not provide coverage to their employees.

NADLER: That's not correct. That is not correct. What there is, is, what there is in this bill is...

SHADEGG: The American people need to read the bill, because you're not reading the bill I'm reading.

NADLER: The small businesses...

SHADEGG: That fine is in the bill, it's in the first 47 pages of the bill.

NADLER: Listen, you can say anything you want what's in the bill, but if you're not telling the truth about it and you don't let me correct you, it doesn't matter.

SHADEGG: I am telling the truth about the bill, and I don't appreciate you saying that. I want the American people to read the bill.

NADLER: Fine. What the bill says...

SHADEGG: If they read the bill, they'll find what I just told them.

NADLER: What the bill says is that companies above -- with an employment above $250,000 level -- and the Energy and Commerce version says above $500,000 level -- they have to, if they don't provide health insurance to their employees, have to pay into a fund to pay for health insurance for their employees.

SHADEGG: So you can see the point I just said.

NADLER: If their payroll is above -- no, I -- well, if they're paying more than $250,000 payroll or $500,000...

SHADEGG: You can have two employees and be paying more than $250,000 payroll.

NADLER: Yes, if each of your employees get $125,000.

SHADEGG: That's right, Jerry.

NADLER: Most employees don't.

SHADEGG: So a business as small...

NADLER: Most employees don't.

SHADEGG: ... as two employees can be fined under this bill if they don't offer insurance. That's what I said, and you said I was misrepresenting the bill.

NADLER: A business with only two employees, each making over $125,000, I assure you is giving those two employees health care coverage.

DOBBS: May I interrupt, gentleman?


DOBBS: I just had one question. First of all, I've got to believe that the audience of this broadcast is impressed that two congressmen have read the legislation when it's been very clear that so many congressmen and senators are not reading legislation. For example, John Conyers, as chairman of the Judiciary Committee, saying that he couldn't understand why anyone would bother. We're delighted that you did and we compliment and commend you.

SHADEGG: Thank you.

DOBBS: But let me ask you this. The issue of -- and you raised this, Congressman Nadler, the lies, the president saying much the same thing, and distortions here. Definitively, what will the bill cost, and what will it actually save? We've heard the president's numbers. We've heard the Congressional Budget Office present quite a different perspective. What is the reality?

NADLER: First of all, the Congressional Budget Office was commenting on an earlier version of the bill. The comment on the later version of the bill with the public option was much better.

The bill is entirely paid for, with the exception that in the bill is a postponement or -- not a postponement, a cancellation of a reduction in fees to physicians, which we will do with or without the bill. That will cost about $245 billion over 10 years, with or without the bill. The bill itself is entirely paid for...


DOBBS: I have to say, Congressman Nadler, thank you so much. Congressman Shadegg, thank you so much.

Lou Dobbs Tonight

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