Rep. Scott and Dr. Hill Debate Health Care

Rep. Scott and Dr. Hill Debate Health Care

By The Situation Room - August 10, 2009

BLITZER: All right. That was congressman -- the Democrat, David Scott of Georgia.

The questioner was Dr. Brian Hill, a urologist. They're both here in THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

Let me introduce Representative Scott first.

What was so wrong about his question, Congressman, that got you upset?

SCOTT: Because the people of Douglasville, especially the African-American community in Douglasville, through which a highway, an $80 million new highway, was going through their community, they set this meeting up. It was not mine. It was the people of Douglasville that did this, and because of their homes and their businesses, 85 businesses will be removed.

It's going through a tunnel in Douglasville. It would come out on the other side.

This is a big, big deal. And imagine yourself with your home and everything else there. And many of these people have felt that they've been disenfranchised before. That's what this meeting was for.

BLITZER: All right.

SCOTT: So that when -- and the doctor knew it. He will tell you he knew it.

And then I have a health fair coming up this Saturday where we'll have all the health care providers, where there will be. So, when Channel 11 ran that clip, they picked...


BLITZER: Hold on a second, Congressman, because I want Dr. Hill to respond.

Dr. Hill, what do you say to that point? This was a discussion about a highway, and you asked a question about health care reform.

HILL: I do agree with him, actually. And I won't disagree with him at all. It was a discussion about Highway 92.

And I had called Congressman Scott's office and I spoke with them beforehand. And I actually asked them if they were going to be having a health care reform forum, and I was told no.

So, what I did is I went to the meeting, I waited three and a half hours. They made an announcement at the meeting, "We understand people are here to ask further questions about topics other than Highway 92. If you have any other questions about 92, come to the microphone, please."

People did. I went and stood at the end of the line. The final question about Highway 92 was asked. Nobody else was behind me. And so I stepped up and I asked a question about health care at that time.

BLITZER: And what was wrong with that, Congressman?

SCOTT: Well, the point was this -- if the doctor was sincere and he had an issue with health care, he could call my office...

HILL: I did.

SCOTT: ... set an appointment, like all my constituents do, and come in.

No, Doctor. You asked...

HILL: I did.

SCOTT: Hold on a second. Your question was, when is Congressman Scott having a health are forum? And the answer was, as my staff said, he's not. That's a difference from the fact that you had a question about this. So, you picked it up on yourself to come and take advantage of these individuals in Douglasville.

Now, Wolf, what I'm saying is...


BLITZER: Let me interrupt, Congressman, for a second. But if your staff said if you have a question on something else, and he waits in line until the very end, and he had a question about health care, what's wrong with simply answering the question?

SCOTT: Because it was this. That issue was, do you have any more questions about the highway? I've got a tour waiting up for people to take me to show the impact in that community.

Again, here's the issue -- the issue was they knew perfectly well that these people had spent months putting this together for a very destructive highway, and so that was the general question. I felt I had to stand up and defend the people of Douglasville. And the other thing is this -- this is an orchestrated opportunity here.


BLITZER: Let me stop you on that point, because Dr. Brian Hill totally disagrees with you that he's part of any orchestration.

Don't you, Dr. Hill?

HILL: It's 100 percent correct. I'm not orchestrating with anybody. I'm not involved with anybody.

My father-in-law, who's 66 years old, whom I called that morning -- and I decided probably about 1:00 in the morning on Friday that I was going to go -- I called him at 8:00 in the morning and I said, "Hey, do you want to come with me? I just want to go, I want to sit down. I'll sit through this meeting and I'll see if we can get some questions about health care in." And I sat through the meeting for four hours.

SCOTT: But here is the point.

BLITZER: Congressman, he is your constituent. He's a physician. He asked a simple question I'll paraphrase the question and we'll get your answer.

Do you support this public option, this public health insurance agency that would compete with the private health insurance companies?

SCOTT: And I answered that question yes, I do. Every question he asked I said yes.

HILL: I didn't say -- I said, why? Why?

SCOTT: Well, Doctor...

HILL: Why do you support that plan, you know, that I discussed about? And I want a good, educated response, not talking points.

SCOTT: OK. Let me answer for you now.

HILL: Great.

SCOTT: I genuinely believe, Doctor, that the big problem in this is the insurance company and the pricing system that is there. They lack competition. They have a monopoly on it.

We need reform of an option here that will force some competition while, at the same time, providing an opportunity for those who might -- the insurance companies might not want to take with having an opportunity. My final point is this...

HILL: How do we have a monopoly when there are multiple insurance agencies out there? And again, you're not even talking about how that is going to decrease costs. You're just doing talking points.

I mean, you're talking about a government-subsidized option that I've already looked at and we've already talked about. We've looked at data, we've looked at facts. I've talked about the Massachusetts health care plan.

We can talk about Canada. We can talk about, you know, Europe. We can talk intelligently. But I want to hear facts and numbers and data and figures.

And I hate to tell you -- I'm going to say this quickly because this bothers me a little bit. This is a health fair that you're holding on the 15th. And I'm a physician, right? And a health fair is where people come to go screening for diabetes and hypertension and prostate cancer and cholesterol levels. That's not a forum to go and talk about health care to have people raising voices and having discussion. And actually, somebody mentioned to me at the meeting that day -- they said, "You know what? I heard that he's having a health fair on the 15th." And I said, "You know what? That's not appropriate, for people to go to that kind of meeting and stand up and cause problems when patients and physicians are getting together to try to do what's right for the community."

So, this is a health fair. This is not a health fair forum.

SCOTT: May I answer you please? OK, Doctor?

HILL: Please do. Yes. I would love an answer.

SCOTT: You very eloquently explained the complexities of this issue, the fact you wanted data and all that information. You live in the district and you're a physician.

Why not take the time to call your congressman, set an appointment, and come in where we can lay all this out for you rather than...


SCOTT: Rather than come on in a very -- and the video didn't show the raucousness.

HILL: Because there wasn't raucousness there. Because the whole video...

SCOTT: Listen, my friend. This was not for health care. That was the issue that rubs. This is where people whose homes are impacted by a road that's coming through that could destroy them.

HILL: Sure. And we're talking about 300 million millions that are going to be impacted by this health care plan. And I agree...

SCOTT: This was not for health care.

HILL: ... Highway 92 is important.

SCOTT: And you...

HILL: Yes. I won't talk over you. Sorry.

SCOTT: OK. But all I'm simply saying, Doctor -- and I don't want to talk over you.

HILL: Yes, I agree. I'm sorry. That's my fault.

SCOTT: I want to make clear that on the tape, when I was saying don't come in and take advantage of what these folks have done, that's what I've said, because I owed it to them to stand up for them and respect the hard work they've put for this. Their homes are going to be affected and destroyed, businesses, in this African-American community who has expressed a desire and a feeling of being disenfranchised. So, here you all come, taking advantage of that on a very controversial, complex issue that you know and I know full well is going to take far more deliberation. I'm anxious to hear your views...

BLITZER: Let me let Dr. Hill respond to that.


BLITZER: And Dr. Hill, get back to the point that, you know, you're not part of any organized group, or you're not even a Republican, I take it. Are you?

HILL: No, I'm not. I'm an Independent voter. I actually like to look at data.

I'm a data guy. I'm a physician. I live my life on data.

As I mentioned to Congressman Scott, we practice medicine using what we call evidence-based medicine. We do research. We see outcome data. And we actually do and practice medicine based on those outcome data.

So, I'm all about outcome data. So, that's why I looked at and spoke with data coming out, pure data, saying that this health care plan is not achieving what we want.

We want to improve access to health care. We want to decrease costs to health care. And we're not seeing that happening out of the plan as it's being run in Massachusetts.


SCOTT: Let me say this, as an opportunity to extend an invitation to you, Doctor, that I would love to set up a meeting where you could come to the office, we can sit down. I'd love to have your input. Let's work together on this bill. It's very valuable for us to work.

But that's what I am very much after. I want to bring down the high cost of health care, while at the same time expanding its coverage. That's a very difficult thing to do, and we do need your help, and I would love for you and I to sit down and see if we can't make some contribution to this.

BLITZER: Do you accept that invitation, Doctor?

HILL: Oh, I would love to do that. But I will tell you -- and the things I worry about -- because I don't want this to be politicized. This is not a political issue. This is an issue that should not be politicized, that should not be along any type of ideology.

This is health care. This is people's daily lives and their health. And I'm a little afraid that we go and we sit down and we talk, and there's nobody that's going to hold you accountable to what you say and what we talk about.

BLITZER: Well, let me make a proposal.


HILL: And that's something that's going to be out there. And so I don't...


SCOTT: Doctor, I'm a part of the force in Congress that slowed this down. I'm a part of the group in Congress that worked on this to make sure we bring down the cost.

I'm a member of the Blue Dog Coalition that was the force that stopped this. I am interested in getting your points of view heard.

I spoke with Obama to do this. And he agreed to do it.

So, please, don't paint me in that corner. I want to work with you to make sure your views are expressed. You are a member of my constituency, and I would love to rep you on it, and I'd love for you to...


HILL: How about a nice health care forum? How about a nice -- is this health fair on Friday -- I mean, on Sunday -- excuse me, on Saturday the 15th, is that truly a...


SCOTT: I think it will be excellent because we're going to have the physicians there, doctors. We're going to have the people who are actually providing the health care, the drug manufacturing companies. So, people will be there who can entertain that.

HILL: Will you be there?

SCOTT: It starts at 10:00. I will be there and I'd love for you to come to it.

HILL: And we can answer questions? We can have questions in an open forum?

SCOTT: You can ask questions.

HILL: Because I'll give you a little time to do your research so you can actually come back with numbers and tell me why you're supporting a government-subsidized option when we're already seeing that government-subsidized options increase costs. So, I would love for you to come back with numbers to show us so we can talk to understand why you're supporting an option that has shown to increase costs, because that's exactly the opposite of what we really need to do, isn't it?

BLITZER: All right.

Go ahead, Congressman, and then we've got to leave it.

SCOTT: Well, the point that I'm saying is that the government option is designed to bring down the cost of insurance because they can compete. Now, I'm not saying monopoly. You have a few of these insurance companies, they work together. It's sort of like a collusion there. We all know that.

There are certain areas there that we can work with. But whether it is a government option or a co-op or something...

HILL: It's the same word.

SCOTT: Well, Doctor, maybe you can work with us to can get something that can force the insurance companies to be more competitive and bring down their prices. And I would love to work with you on it.

HILL: I think that would be wonderful. I think (ph) competition amongst insurance companies. I think that's a great idea.

I think we need to -- and we can talk about knocking down, you know, the borders so that people can actually buy health insurance from Texas and people can buy health insurance from other parts in the country. I think we need to...


SCOTT: Well, I look forward to working with you. We'll have physicians there. We'll have people there from the government and everybody. And let's sit down...

HILL: Wonderful.

SCOTT: ... and we will get your viewpoints there.

BLITZER: I would like to propose to both of you that CNN cameras be allowed inside so that we can record this and let our viewers continue this dialogue.

SCOTT: That would be wonderful.

HILL: That would be great.

SCOTT: It will be at (INAUDIBLE) High School in Clayton County, Georgia, in Jonesboro, this Saturday from 10:00 to 2:00 p.m.

I look forward to seeing you, Doctor and shaking your hand.

HILL: Wonderful.

SCOTT: Maybe we'll have a beer together.

HILL: I'd love to have a beer with you. You can never turn down a beer. SCOTT: All right.

BLITZER: It seems to be the way of resolving these issues nowadays, sit down and have a beer.

HILL: I still want truth, but -- I still want numbers and data. That doesn't resolve things for me until I see that we're going to do what's right for the American people.

BLITZER: All right. We'll see what happens on Saturday.

Congressman David Scott, Democrat of Georgia, Dr. Brian Hill, a urologist of Georgia, a constituent of Congressman Scott, thanks so much for having this good discussion.

HILL: Thank you, Wolf. Appreciate it.

Thank you, Congressman.

SCOTT: Thank you, Wolf.


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