tv [untitled] CSPAN June 16, 2009 7:00am-7:30am EDT
>> "washington journal" starts now. >> today, we are spending over to $trillion on health. -- over $2 trillion on health. and yet, as i think many of you are aware, from all of this spending, more of our citizens are uninsured, the quality of our care is often lower, and we are not any healthier. in fact, citizens in some countries that spend substantially less than we do are actually living longer than we do. make no mistake, the cost of our health care is a threat to our economy. it is an escalating burden on our families and businesses.
it is a ticking time bomb for the federal budget, and it is unsustainable for the united states of america. guesthost: as president obama ws out his health care agenda, working out details. one proposal would see health- care benefits taxed that are worth more than $17,000 taxed. another would put the cap at $20,000. all those details will be the discussion points for our first hour on "washington journal" today. 202-737-0001 for republicans. 202-737-0002 for democrats. 202-628-0205 for independents. email at c-span.org, and twitter
us at c-span/wj. aside from the funding issues, which we will get to, could you walk us legislatively through the process that is going to take place over the next couple of weeks to set up the agenda for a vote on health care. >> sure. it is a critical couple of weeks. before the july 4 recess, the three committees in the house that are working on health care reform are supposed to put out their draft bill potentially this week. this week is a big week for the senate finance committee. expecting a draft bill tomorrow. there will be some blacks, but they're expected to fill in by friday, and they are going to start their markup next tuesday. again, wednesday, the senate health education, labor, and
pensions committee was scheduled to begin in markup today, but if push it to tomorrow. -- to begin a markup today, but they have pushed it to tomorrow. at the same time, potentially leaving tens of millions of people uninsured -- that is the calendar in the next two weeks, but whether the committees released their bills, start their markups, that will determine whether they stay on track for a vote before the august recess. host: will these bills only deal with how to pay for these efforts? guest: no, these bills are comprehensive. the senate finance bill is comprehensive, and it will include how to finance it, which is the big unanswered question. but the senate health committee -- that does not say how to pay
for it. the senate finance committee will do that. the ways and means committee will have to weigh in as well. host: the story in "the wall street journal" looking at payment for these kinds of things, looking at benefits and whether they will be taxed or not. guest: we all talk about the public plan and how controversial that is. this is another hugely controversial topic, taxing health benefits. max baucus, the senate finance committee chairman, sees it as the largest pot of money that congress can go to to fund a health-care overhaul. but it will stiff -- but it will face stiff opposition from unions to do not want to see health benefits taxed. they see their members as taking a big hit. the president campaigned against this, so it puts him in a sticky position politically. a lot of land mines there. but with max baucus being so --
he is almost an unequivocal when he talks about it that i think we should expect to see some form of benefits being taxed, at least coming out of his committee. host: you talk about amendments to these bills. will republicans win to get their voice on this issue? guest: that seems to be their only choice right now, at least in the health committee. they have a lot of problems with that bill, and we are going to see a good number of them coming from them to try to change it to their liking. host: the president talked in a speech yesterday over the weeks leading up to this that he brought a lot of different groups to the table to make this happen. how are those groups going to respond not only to yesterday's speech, but also the efforts that take place over the next couple of weeks, and who are we expected to hear from as far as these various forces over the next couple of weeks? guest: there are a couple of big players. none have really broken away publicly. they -- there are rumblings that
groups like the chamber of commerce and the national federation of independent businesses are not happy over what they saw at the health committee last week. in my discussions with them, they are starting to make their concerns no more, which is a change from the previous six months, when a lot of stakeholders were reluctant to talk negatively about the process, so you are going to start seeing groups being willing to speak up and saying we do not like this. there are some meetings they were having with stakeholders that view the issue the way they do, some strategy meetings. but they were telling me they're really waiting for the senate finance committee, for what they propose, and they see senator baucus and senator grassley as possibly a more sympathetic ear, talking about what they want. that will help determine their strategy. host: our guest will be with us during the course of the hour.
if you want to weigh in on it, the numbers will be on your screen. email is available at journal@c- span.org. district heights, maryland, you are up first. caller: i want to say this. when it comes down to the money for the banks, they have no problem. when it comes down to funding these wars, they have no problem. that is number 1. number two, every senator and congressman already has government health care. i would suggest this, that we cut their health care and make them pay for their health care and their families out of their salary, and i guarantee they will come up very quickly with something that can benefit every american in this country. number 3, there are some congressmen and senators who are writing these bills whose family members have stock in the pharmaceutical industry and in
other medical areas, and they should not be allowed to sit and form any bill that deals with the american people. we should not allow the politicians to divide as republican and democrat on an issue as important as health care. host: john, you talked about problems. do you think that the legislators are going to come together on this issue in the next couple of weeks? >caller: no, i do not. this concerns the american people, which is why they can drag their feet and do what they want to do. when it comes to the banks, it takes two or three weeks, maybe a month or so. host: we hear from scott. good morning. caller: pedro, there is a fact -- monopolies create two things, higher prices and lower quality for whatever service the
monopoly controls. when they can figure out a way to define economic law, until they can do that, we need to forget about a government monopoly or government control of our health-care system. we will have higher prices and lower quality. that is all there is to it. host: on "the wall street journal" this morning, we talked about payment. there is a story looking at the workings within the committee on how to pay for health care and gives some details about the discussions going on. they write that under one financing proposal, health-care benefits worth more than $17,000 would be taxed as regular income. the cap would be allowed to grow annually for people the familiar with committee discussions. under another option, the cap would be set at about $20,000 boat with a less generous annual adjustment.
max baucus hopes to release health care legislation friday, setting up four votes for next week. shreveport, louisiana, shelton, on our independent line. good morning from go caller: i agree with the first -- good morning. caller: i agree with the first caller. the president, the congressperson, has let the american people down. all the industrialized countries in the world have some form of single-payer health care. and to try -- the whole debate is this -- the whole debate is just profit-driven, trying to keep the insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, and the doctors, which should be basically thinking about the health and welfare instead of their profits.
host: so what should congress do with the president's proposal for health care? caller: i do not think congress is going to do anything. their hands are in the pie, and they are trying to give us the crumbs. what is going to have to be done is the people in this country are going to have to stand up and take a stand and vote -- even the president -- out of office, whenever it is, who do not have our interests at heart -- whatever it is, who do not have our interests at heart. like the first caller said, they can come up with all the money for the banks, to fight two wars, they can come up with all this money to take care of themselves, but when it comes to the people, the working class people of this country, it is always a problem.
host: ms. budoff brown, how do they -- guest: the president has made this his top priority, other than fixing the economy, and he views health care as fixing the economy, part of it. there is a ton of skepticism, but i think the process, the fact that the process has moved as far as it has, this says something. it will be a tough six weeks when every interest group, every pressure point is exerted, and i think it is anybody's guess how this will play out at the end of six weeks. but i think viewers and readers, they are reacting to
decades and decades of failed attempts to reform the health- care system. so it is not surprising that there is heavy and natural skepticism that something will actually happen right now. host: i know six weeks is a long time away, but if, at the end of six weeks, there is no definite bill ready to be passed, then what happens as far as the larger issue of health care? guest: i think it is pretty clear that something will pass through the house. i think that is the conventional wisdom. which may not see a bill passed through the senate by august 7, one of the date that may be, before they leave for recess. but the president and democratic lawmakers have a safety net, and that is the process for reconciliation, being able to move health care through the process with only 51 votes. if they do not have a vote passed by october 15, they can go that route. that would make it easier to pass a bill, but it is by no means a foregone conclusion that they will be able to do that because there is a lot of
pitfalls with using that budgetary maneuver. there is even a good number of democrats who are not committed to some of the central pillars of what obama is pushing and other liberal democrats. host: next call, democrats like. good morning. illinois, go ahead, angela. caller: i really think what the president is doing is great. i am going to make it short, my story. i live in illinois. there are only two hospitals here. i have breast cancer. i had it once in 1998, and it recurred. the hospital is a big foundation. they told me i was not allowed, because of a written agreement, ok? the only person that came to my
rescue was president obama, ok? i even faxed the hospital a letter. this is when he was -- before he became president. they acted like that was nothing. he is trying to get votes. i said, no, and every time i call their they say it is harassment. host: when you say senator obama team to your rescue, what do you mean? caller: he wrote a letter responding when i wrote him. they said thank you for sending the letter from president obama on your pending medical issue. it goes on, you know. host: do you think the president will get what he wants on healthcare? caller: yes, i do, sir. i also called and spoke with
a local senator. senator ferris, ok? he said show mate any way in which you are -- he said show me any way in which you are barred, and we will move. he has not done anything, ok? host: burtonsville, maryland, john, on our republican line. caller: yes, i want to ask ms. brown a couple of questions. i want to ask if she is familiar with the congressional budget office's understanding that it is going to cost $62,000 per american for obama's health care plan, and there is no medical liability reform.
then the last lady -- i do not know how old she is, but in countries where they do have single-payer, you know, what happens to people who have cancer who are 65 or 70 or 75? one last comment. for example, i know cuba is something that is always trotted out. what do they do with aids patients in cuba? do they not send them to an island and segregate them? host: kerik to take any of those questions? -- do you care to take any of those questions? guest: i am familiar with the cbo numbers. orrin hatch put out the numbers from the cbo that was released yesterday, that the senate
health committee bill would cost more than $1 trillion. that is a number that we are going to see i think repeated and thrown around a lot today and in the next few days because republicans have been saying for a while now that we do not know what the president is trying to do. he is trying to spend too much money and will he accomplish his goals. i think you will hear from democrats that this was a -- that the cbo look at the kennedy bill but there were missing parts of it. it does not look at the bill as a whole, it misses some parts of the health reform program, a public insurance plan that will change the final calculations. it also left out how much medicaid expansion will cost, and that will add a couple of hundred million dollars to the bottom line. there are a couple of other measures that the present -- that kennedy's staff says that
will be taken off insurance rolls at at the end of 2017. that is obviously falling way short of where the president said he wanted to be. so i play with that cbo score. i will probably have to leave the rest of it to be talked about. host: maggie, independent line, california. caller: tom harkin and danny davis introduce a bill simultaneously dealing with long-term care to remove the institutional bias so that people can receive care at home at 1/3 the cost. i am wondering if you're a person from "the political -- i am wondering if your person from "of the politico" can talk about
if we can get this 12-year-old choice act through. we have the baby boomers coming, and we're not even ready for them. host: ashburn, virginia, laurie, on our democrats line. caller: hi. i had an opportunity to listen to the president's speech to the ama yesterday, and he said distinctly that he was not going to advocate a single-payer system but a choice like we have in the federal government, of care providers and insurers. but when i get my insurance statement for my yearly checkup with my primary care physician and i see the insurance companies have negotiated, my primary care physician gets less for my yearly checkup than my mechanic does when i take my
car in for service? i think there's something wrong with my health system, and i am not sure how we're going to retain the highest quality doctors and our system if this is the case. if they are under those kind of pressures. host: the president yesterday made some comparisons to the automotive industry. here is what he had to say. >> across the country, over 1/3 of companies have reduced benefits over the years, and 1/3 have dropped coverage altogether. our largest companies are suffering as well. a big part of what led general motors and chrysler into trouble were the huge costs they racked up providing health care for workers, costs that made them less profitable and less competitive with automakers around the world. if we do not fix our health-care system, america may go the way of gm, paying more, getting
less, and going broke. when it comes to the cost of our health care, the status quo is unsustainable. [applause] so reform is not a luxury, it is a necessity. host: our conversation this hour takes a look at the president's health care agenda. if you want to make current mets, you can -- if you want to make comments, call-in on the numbers on our screen. jacksonville, florida, pat, on our republican line. caller:, one to ask ms. brown a question. -- i want to ask ms. brown a question. the undocumented immigrants covered in the bill are listed as 47 million.
that is simply not true. it is stated that 67% of americans who do not have insurance do so because they do not get it. they could afford it. i am using the citizenship check, which apparently obama and the democrats who are putting the plan out are not including. i think that is a serious issue. i think the fact that he has basically said that he is not going to do anything about lawyers -- you ask any doctor who is paying $1 million for medical malpractice, if they do not do something to cap the trial lawyers, all you are doing is adding 47 million more people who can sue doctors. host: ms. budoff brown. guest: senator max baucus have said that undocumented immigrants will not receive benefits under this bill.
he has stated pretty clearly that that will not happen. you are right that the 47 million, there are different kinds of uninsured in that group. there are folks to can and should -- who can afford insurance but do not get into their pockets of the uninsured that critics of the obama approach have said we can deal with this in a little more of a targeted way. medical liability -- the president did say that he does not support caps on medical malpractice awards, but he is willing to look at other types of programs to deal with medical liability issues, that the ama -- they want caps, but the president, nancy nielsen, said she did not expect him to support caps. it is different than president bush. it is a tough go politically, no
matter who is in office, but the president is saying he is going to look at. it is a break from his predecessors, but what he said yesterday was not anything new, so it's sort of remains to be seen as to how comprehensive or aggressive of a plan he will support or put forward. so we will have to see. host: is it fair to say that no matter what type of health care legislation does pass, it is going to be doctors determining that its success or not? guest: they are going to have a big role. there are folks who believe that doctors are big alligators, meaning that if your doctor does not -- are big but alligatovali, that they either need the ama to say they support this waor just not to work against it. i think president obama went to chicago yesterday because he wants to get their support, and
the house and senate are doing a lot to try to entice changing the medicare formula, which is a huge issue for doctors. they are trying to incentivize this for doctors, despite all the changes they are going to have to see with the reform bill. host: woodbridge, virginia, cindy, on our democrats line. caller: i have some siblings in london. one of my siblings just called me this morning. they determined that she has glaucoma. they are doing a test to determine which type she has so they can give her a higher drug or whenever they have to do. she has to come back in three months. also, last november, my cousin was taken to the hospital.
they did a check on him, he went home, and they did not determine that he had a hemorrhage from a fall. two months later, he died. no matter what company you work with, if we can get some sort of uniform health care -- host: san diego, california. mark, independent life. caller: i would be very shocked if they build a not pass this year, to the problem in 1993 was that out of the gate, in the military, it killed this whole agenda. from the next year, the republicans ran the whole country. when the midterm elections took place. as far as the plan that i can see right now, it appears to lack a criminal prosecution element to it as far as dentists
or doctors inflicting intentional harm on patients. there was a case out here in california where a doctor and his wife were doing fillings on good teeth, and sometimes at one sitting would do 10 teeth and fill teeth that were good, just for the money, just to profiteer. and this is not something that can be combated by civil suits. you cannot say that is worth money. anyone doing something like that has to go to prison, and that element -- and when you simply just sue people to get money, they just simply raise their medical malpractice insurance rates, and then bill us for it, so we end up paying more for them committing crimes. there needs to be an element to this where, when a dentist or doctor harms a patient
intentionally, he has got to go to prison, and there needs to be part of the justice department which is assigned to look for people, hopefully out of this database that they will generate -- host: i have to leave it there. one of the people talking about this, a legislator in on the discussions, representative frank apallone of new jersey. congressman, tell us about your role in this. guest: well, we are the health subcommittee. we try to chair actually putting together, along with some of the other committees, that we expect to be releasing by the end of the week that would implement president obama's health care reform. it is very exciting because basically wha'