Lawmaker Seeks Government-Run Option

This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," March 24, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, ANCHOR: Well, you know, the public option still very much an option.

California Democratic Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey is planning to introduce legislation as soon as early next week. It would add a government-run option to the national health care exchange.

Democratic Congresswoman Chellie Pingree of Maine says that this is actually a good idea, plans to co-sponsor that legislation. She joins me right now.

Congresswoman, you expect, first off, this to go anywhere? Because this is something that, obviously, the Senate took out to make it more palatable at the time for what it thought would be a supermajority vote, 60 votes. Now all you need is 50.

But — but what do you think?


You know, there were a lot of people who were very disappointed that the public option wasn’t in the final bill that we passed. And, so, Lynn Woolsey promised to introduce a bill as soon as we get through the passage of Senate and House bills. Who knows what will happen?

You know, this — this health care bill has been alive and dead and up and down. And I think it’s still a very important conversation. I’m pleased she’s introducing it. And it may well survive as a stand-alone measure.

CAVUTO: All right. Now, if it survives as a stand-alone measure, Congresswoman, then that means an add-on to the bill we have, right?

PINGREE: Right. Right. But, this way, it’s not part of the negotiations that went on between the House and Senate, what fits in to reconciliation, what doesn’t.

CAVUTO: Right.

PINGREE: It can sort of live on die on its own merits, at least at this point.

CAVUTO: But, you know, that is what is giving a lot of folks, ma’am — no offense — the heebie-jeebies about this. It’s like things are being changed after the cake comes out of the oven, and you guys are baking a whole new cake.

PINGREE: Well, look, we’re focusing on the bill itself. And this bill does a tremendous amount of good, but a lot of people felt it was important to have this conversation. It might happen down the road.


PINGREE: Let’s face it. A lot of people who don’t like the changes don’t like the bill anyway.

CAVUTO: No, you’re right about that, but I guess it comes on the same day, ma’am, we’re learning that this — this key selling point, that all kids, for example, with preexisting illnesses would be covered, it turns out it’s not the case, that a lot of these drug discounts that were at least going to start rolling in this year, we were told, are not.

And I don’t know what else we will unearth, ma’am, but I’m telling you, people are looking at this and saying, I don’t know whether I was sold a bill of goods.

PINGREE: No, I don’t think anybody was sold a bill of goods.

And, look, I feel confident that those...

CAVUTO: Well, but — well, I will tell you — you know what, congresswoman? I will tell you, those parents of kids with preexisting conditions, I think they are thinking that.

PINGREE: Oh. We will fix that. I mean, that is a key selling point of this bill.

CAVUTO: Well, when will you fix it?

PINGREE: And it’s critical.

It may be fixed between the House and Senate right now. And I guarantee that the White House is going to make sure that is changed, and that we will do what have to do in Congress.

CAVUTO: But didn’t someone read, Congresswoman, the writing, finally, to say, hey, you know, this thing we thought we have, we don’t have? The president’s going around the country and in his final remarks championing this at the signing as a done deal. Someone should whisper to the big guy, we have read the bill, sir. It’s not in it.

PINGREE: I think it was in highly technical language. I actually just learned about that today as you were talking about it.


PINGREE: But, again, I feel like it will be a technical fix, and we will get it back in there, if it is, in fact, out.

CAVUTO: Well, you know, Congresswoman, I’m no lawyer. And I’m going to defer soon to the judge here, who is a great lawyer, but I have watched a lot of "Perry Mason" episodes on TV.


CAVUTO: And I will tell you, ma’am, with all due respect...

PINGREE: I have watched lawyers on TV, too.

CAVUTO: ... I read that — I read that portion of the bill where it was clarified. And, you know, even an idiot like me can understand, no, it doesn’t take effect immediately. The paragraph is quite clear, over the period of time, mentioning up to 2014.

And I’m thinking, you know, well, I mean, I understood that, and I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed.

PINGREE: Well, what are you going to do? Sometimes, you can get too many lawyers in the mix. But I guarantee you that’s something that’s going to get fixed right away.


CAVUTO: But do you worry — what I’m asking you, ma’am – I’m not meaning to beat up on you. I’m not meaning — I know you have the best of intentions getting this going.


CAVUTO: But a lot of your colleagues apparently didn’t read this thing. And now they’re standing by something that could be dramatically different than the way it was sold.

PINGREE: Again, I think you may be bringing up an issue that some people are concerned about today, but it will be fixed very shortly, if, in fact, it’s an issue.

CAVUTO: So, you think it’s limited to just these couple items that we have discovered today, because you know what happens here? It’s like they unearth problems you had in school and then more problems come out. And, I mean, that’s — that was my entire school years, I got to tell you, Congresswoman.


CAVUTO: But I’m just saying, what new are we — what new are we going to uncover?

PINGREE: Well, you know, look, people have talked about the passage of Social Security, the passage of Medicare. There were giant fixes to that and many pieces that didn’t come into play for several years.

And, as somebody said to you earlier, this is an enormous piece of legislation, as we have all talked about.

CAVUTO: All right.

PINGREE: We will continue to comb through every piece, make sure it’s implemented. And I feel confident we will deliver what we promised to the American public.

CAVUTO: Well, the only exception, ma’am, I would make to that, in Social Security, we never told anyone that you’re going to get this money the very first year, it’s going to be this to the dollar, and then pull it.

PINGREE: Well, most of these things — we have been very clear with people what takes until 2014, what we’re going to do right away.

CAVUTO: But, no, this, you guys said, was now. This, you guys said, day one — when I was in Washington, I mean, I got pretty tired. I was doing eight, 10 hours straight, I grant you.


CAVUTO: But that one, I got through my thick skull. That I heard, that it — immediately, immediately, immediately. That, I understood.

PINGREE: I agree. You are absolutely right. We have promised the American public that children...


PINGREE: ... cannot be denied for a preexisting condition.

CAVUTO: All right.

PINGREE: And I’m sure that we will implement this legislation in the way we said.

CAVUTO: All right, Congresswoman, a pleasure having you on. Thank you very much.

PINGREE: Absolutely. Thanks for having me.

Content and Programming Copyright 2010 Fox News Network, Inc. Copyright 2010 Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.