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Do the Health Care Reform Numbers Add Up?

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," September 10, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: President Obama says he wants a bipartisan solution to health care, but is that even possible? Some Democrats say no public option, no way. Some Republicans say we need to start from scratch or nothing will pass. So now what?

Republican senator Mike Enzi joins us. He is a member of the "Gang of Six," a bipartisan group of senators on the Senate Finance Committee working on health care. And my favorite thing -- you are the only accountant in the U.S. Senate.

SEN. MIKE ENZI, R - WYO.: Yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: So OK, so you're the numbers guy. You should be the numbers guy. Are these numbers adding up that the president talked about last night? Do you feel comfortable that this is -- that the bill, at least as the president's talking about, really means nothing added to the deficit?

ENZI: I had a lot of difficulty with it, but the final numbers aren't in. The bill that I'm really familiar with is the Health, Education, Labor and Pension committee bill that we already passed, and that one doesn't have the pay-fors in it. This one has the ways to pay for the bill. And I'm having some difficulty with the numbers, mostly because they aren't all in.

I'm also the one that's raising the issue that we're putting in a lot of hidden costs in there, and we are starting the taxes up front and then phasing it in later, which hides some of the -- hides some of the costs and some of the -- some of the taxes. And we're also talking about placing some taxes on the companies related to the price of the insurance that they sell. And that again is hiding a tax on the person that's buying the insurance because it'll be passed through. Anytime the companies are billed, they -- if they don't pass the taxes on, they go out of business.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you say that you have some difficulty with it or something. I forget what the word -- you're very polite. And the term -- I mean, what's your level of certainty that the bill that we -- that is going to come up from your Democratic colleagues in the Senate is going to be deficit-neutral? Is it, I don't know, 95 percent certain it's going to be deficit-neutral or zero or something in between or (INAUDIBLE)

ENZI: The president promised that he wouldn't sign a bill that wasn't deficit-neutral.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you buy it?

ENZI: I don't know how we get to that point. That's the difficulty, particularly in the timeframe that we've been given. Apparently, we have until Tuesday night to finish up any negotiations that we're doing. We're still asking some pretty basic questions. One of them is in the area of Medicaid.

The governors have been really upset about the way that they would have additional costs thrust on them. We tried to find some ways to reduce those costs. We promised that we would talk to the governors again. We haven't talked to the governors again. We haven't gotten the numbers back yet from CBO on exactly what the costs are so that they can be broken down state by state. Some of the states are going to have a tremendous increase in costs. Some of them won't because they've already been providing insurance at a much higher rate. But it will be a tremendous weight on some of the -- some of the states.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator Baucus says this is -- Democratic senator says this is coming out next week, this bill. Have you actually seen it, or is this Gang of Six still talking concepts?

ENZI: We're still talking concepts, but we have seen large pieces of the bill. I probably have a bill that's about 8 inches thick so far because we've been insisting that we see the details. They aren't the final details yet because the final details haven't been written. We're still asking some very basic questions. Medicaid's just one example of that.

We're talking about medical malpractice. The president said last night that that needed to be a part of it, but he had a simple solution for it. He was going to borrow the Bush idea and have Secretary Sebelius get to work on it right away. I'm not sure that there is authority for her to do that. I think what he's referring to is the Enzi-Baucus bill from the previous Congress, where we talked about some demonstration projects that would include health courts that states could do to show ways to bring down medical malpractice costs.

VAN SUSTEREN: So it looks like there's a lot of work to be done.

ENZI: It has to be legislated, and...

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you're the -- you're (INAUDIBLE) at least we're hoping to get the numbers from because you're the accountant. You're the Senate accountant, so to speak. So anyway, Senator, thank you. Good luck with this Gang of Six, and we hope the numbers all add up right.

ENZI: I'll keep adding them.

VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you very much, sir.

ENZI: Thank you.


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