Rep. Fattah on Health Care Costs

This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," November 16, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: All right, fair and balanced now, back to that new report which states health care costs will rise under the House bill, maybe by nearly $300 billion.

My next guest voted for the bill. Knowing this, would he have voted any differently?

Let's ask Pennsylvania Congressman Chaka Fattah. He is a member of the Appropriations Committee. Congressman, always good having you. Thanks for coming.

REP. CHAKA FATTAH, D-PA.: Well, it's good to be here.

Your last guest, she is wonderful, but she did not say one word about what is actually in this report. What is in the report is that it will save Americans $200 billion out of pocket over the next 10 years. It will extend the life of the Medicare trust fund five years, that it will add 2.5 million more Americans to employer-based coverage. So, there's a lot of good news in this report. And what we need to focus in on is that Congress, under Democratic leadership, is moving to do something about a major crisis. Now, we may not end up with a perfect bill, but we have a system that is unsustainable, by everyone's judgment.

Costs are going through the roof. What this report says, the CMS reports says, is that, over the 10 years, health care will only rise by 1 percent in the entire country. So, we have managed to cover everybody. They say 34 million. CBO — and I know this confuses your listeners, but the Congressional Budget Office says...

CAVUTO: Right.

FATTAH: ... 36 million. Whether it's 34 million or 36 million, a lot more of the people who watch you, Neil, are going to have health care coverage under this bill. And it's going to save money.

CAVUTO: Well, maybe so. Maybe so, Congressman, but you are missing I, guess, the obvious question. It's like asking, "Outside of that event, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the show?"

I mean, the CMS did say, with the exception of the proposed reductions in Medicare payment updates, which you alluded to, the provisions of HR- 3962 would not have a significant impact on future health care cost growth rates. I'm reading from the report. In addition, the longer-term viability of the Medicare update reductions is doubtful, is doubtful.

FATTAH: Well, look...

CAVUTO: What do you make of that?

FATTAH: ... we want rigorous examination of the bill.

CAVUTO: Oh, I'm sure that you do, but this report says, it is not happening.


FATTAH: Well, you have got to look at the whole thing.

I mean, the whole — at the end of the day, it says $200 billion in savings in out-of-pocket costs for American citizens. It says a less than a 1 — a 1 percent increase in terms of health care costs over the next decades. It says we cover 34 million Americans who today don't have health insurance.

I will buy that. I'm for that. And the cut in Medicare is less than it was in 1997.


CAVUTO: I am not denying that some of your specific segments that you refer to the numbers are right.

When it says that the percent of GDP devoted to health care is going to rise to 21.1 percent from 20.8 percent, and everyone who has been creating this package, Congressman, has been bragging that that wouldn't happen, that our share of health care spending and GDP would shrink markedly, then I have got to wonder, gee, what was the fuss about? And, in the end, to not even insure everybody?

In the end, after 10 years, you're still going to have close to 30 million people not insured. So, what have — what have we been busting our humps for, and, more to the point, have you been busting your hump for?

FATTAH: Well, look, Neil, Democrats are going to be accountable for this, at end of the day.

We think that it's going to provide coverage for 96 percent of everyone in the country. It's kind of like auto insurance. You may not get everybody, because some people will just avoid the responsibility. But we think this is the right way to go.

I thought Orrin Hatch probably said it correctly, that, if we pass this, this might be the end of the two-party system, because the American public is going to understand that there's one party that is focused on their real needs.

And I thought that was a bit of candor at a moment in this debate as the Senate gets ready to start its debate tomorrow. What we need to focus in on is working to get a perfect bill, as perfect as possible — perfection not available. But, between the House version, what the Senate comes up with, we will go to conference.

Me and you need to open those doors to the conference and try to get the best bill we can for the president to sign before we go into the holiday season...

CAVUTO: All right.

FATTAH: ... and into the new year.

CAVUTO: Congressman, thank you very much.

FATTAH: Neil, thank you for having me.

CAVUTO: Same here. All right.

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