Interviews

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee: Repealing Health Care Law Is 'Killing Americans'

This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," January 19, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE, D-TEXAS: This is about saving lives. This is killing Americans, if we take this bill away, if we repeal this bill.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Texas Democratic Congressman Sheila Jackson Lee says killing Americans, if we repeal this. Congresswoman, good to have you.

Do you really believe that?

JACKSON LEE: It's -- it's good to be with you. It really is.

Neil, I am standing in front of a picture of a senior citizen who had pneumonia. And if it had not been for her constitutionally protected Medicare, she might have truly, under certain circumstances, lost her life.

There are people would have been living with preexisting conditions where now they will be able to have insurance, people with chronic illnesses, like a hemophiliac. One of individuals that we saw yesterday by the name of Ed said that he would be worried about his medical care with lifetime caps, because he had been a hemophiliac...

CAVUTO: But you just said that woman behind you, though, Congresswoman...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: ... would..

(CROSSTALK)

JACKSON LEE: He's been a hemophiliac since he was a child.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: ... had Medicare. Medicare wouldn't have been affected one way or the other with the law, right? I mean, she would still have been treated regardless if the law was in or out, right?

JACKSON LEE: Well, the argument -- the argument, Neil, is that government-run health care is bad. The argument is that it is unconstitutional.

And I am here to say to you, first of all, I'm going to vote no on the repeal and I look forward to working with Republicans on certain fixes, because you can amend, but I'm certainly not going to repeal.

CAVUTO: All right, but some of these...

JACKSON LEE: What we're saying is that their argument...

CAVUTO: ... benefits you allude to, ma'am, have not even kicked in. So, if they repeal or take them out, something that has not even happened yet is -- is -- is not affected, right?

JACKSON LEE: Some -- but some have kicked -- kicked in.

For example, being able to have your children on your insurance at the age of 26, that is already in place. Preexisting disease -- requiring insurance companies to sell insurance to those individuals with preexisting conditions has already kicked in.

CAVUTO: For children, for children.

(CROSSTALK)

JACKSON LEE: It's still -- it's already kicked in.

CAVUTO: So...

JACKSON LEE: And that's a mighty important ...

CAVUTO: So, you think -- all right.

JACKSON LEE: ... aspect...

CAVUTO: All right. All right. All right. Then -- then, you think...

JACKSON LEE: ... of this bill that is saving lives.

CAVUTO: ... by repealing it -- so, you think, by repealing it, people are going to die? You are literally saying that?

JACKSON LEE: I certainly -- I -- I certainly believe that there is a real possibility of that.

This is not a bill about jobs. It's about saving lives. And that is, of course, prescription drug benefits for seniors, closing those doughnut holes. Those are forthcoming. Yes, the -- as you indicated, the preexisting condition, the 26-year-old being on your -- on your health care coverage, because suppose your youngster who doesn't have a job just graduated from college, got into a catastrophic accident, and you didn't have the means.

People have been turned away from hospitals simply because they have no insurance. People have been put out of hospitals because they have reached the lifetime caps. So, this...

CAVUTO: But -- but -- but, Congresswoman, you...

JACKSON LEE: ... is legislation...

CAVUTO: ... have got to be careful. I know your -- your heart and intent and your desire to keep this bill, but you're -- you going to have to give me more proof, when you say Americans are going to die, that since this health care law went into effect, that it has saved lives, that people are live today who otherwise would have been dead, because, otherwise, you are really, really just -- just making stuff up.

JACKSON LEE: Well, I'm -- I am not making things up.

I think, if you listen to the debate, you will find a lot of Republicans making things up, because they have not even read the bill, and they don't know that certain items will be to place in 2011, some in 2013, some in 2014.

CAVUTO: Well, it turned out that many in your party didn't read the bill.

There is enough ignorance to go around. You're quite right, Congresswoman. But what I'm saying here is...

JACKSON LEE: And I'm willing...

CAVUTO: ... I just had a Republican...

JACKSON LEE: And I'm willing to work in a bipartisan manner.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: But I just had a Republican here who said, look, I -- I believe what the congresswoman is saying -- he didn't quote you by name -- preexisting conditions coverage, some of these other things for kids, coverage, some of this -- the portability of insurance, a vital thing that Republicans particularly have been pushing for, get that coverage.

But, but, but it is...

JACKSON LEE: Tax credits for small businesses.

CAVUTO: ... all the other stuff that has been added on and the labyrinth of administration and -- and bureaucracy that really doesn't do anyone any good or certainly save any lives, isn't doing you any good, isn't doing Republicans any good, isn't doing the American people any good.

So, focus on where you agree, not on the monstrosity, where you didn't.

JACKSON LEE: Well, Neil, what I would say is that, first of all, the critics are making the point that this labyrinth, this complex bill -- which many bills are complex -- is not working.

And I will say the same thing that you said to me. This is a progress. These provisions are going to come in over time. How do they know it is not working?

So, just as I heard a member say on the floor of the House, when the Constitution was not like I might have wanted if I had been alive then -- I wouldn't have wanted to be three-fifths of a person -- but we ultimately amended it.

I would make the argument, amend, not repeal, and we could work together, we could walk hand in hand together. But I will tell you, arguments are being made on the floor of the House about how unconstitutional this is. Well, I argue not, because states require people to have insurance. And if they don't -- when I say insurance, auto insurance -- and, if they don't, they are fined.

CAVUTO: Well, that is a legal question...

JACKSON LEE: So, this argument that you cannot...

CAVUTO: ... being dealt with.

(CROSSTALK)

JACKSON LEE: OK. Well, our long -- it's a long legal precedent.

CAVUTO: But I have got to just say this, Congresswoman. I know where your heart is, but if a...

JACKSON LEE: It's a long legal precedent.

CAVUTO: ... if a Republican, ma'am, if a Republican did what you are doing right now, again, with the best of intentions, and showed a picture of -- of some old lady in bed who could be dying, if -- if there was not this adequate care, and reversed it around and said this person is on the brink because of the monstrosity of the health care law we just passed, would you object to that?

JACKSON LEE: I wouldn't object to it. I would disagree with it and I would indicate that they're factually wrong.

CAVUTO: Oh, come on. You would -- of course you would object to it. Of course you would object to it.

JACKSON LEE: I -- I would -- I would debate it, Neil. That is what we are doing.

And I believe that my facts are accurate, because what I have used it for is to show that Medicare, which is government-run to a certain extent, has not been proven unconstitutional.

CAVUTO: But that woman in that picture, Congresswoman, that...

JACKSON LEE: Therefore, arguments...

CAVUTO: ... woman in that picture...

JACKSON LEE: Therefore, arguments...

CAVUTO: ... that woman in that picture you are showing us would have gotten the treatment she did with or without this law coming in, because you just said it was Medicare-provided.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Medicare wouldn't have been an issue here, without or without...

JACKSON LEE: The issue...

CAVUTO: ... this law.

JACKSON LEE: ... that we are debating, Neil, is whether or not the Affordable Care Act and the Patient Protection Act is constitutional.

CAVUTO: I know, but, ma'am, you are saying...

JACKSON LEE: This is an example of a government-run bill.

CAVUTO: ... that this woman would be dead -- you are saying that that nice lady behind you would be dead if not for your actions. And that's just...

JACKSON LEE: I have said...

CAVUTO: ... not so.

JACKSON LEE: ... a government-run -- you're -- you are mishearing -- a government-run health care program, such as Medicare, both is unconstitutional and helps saves lives like the individual behind me...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: But Medicare didn't change. Medicare didn't change. There are some who argue that you have put new pressures on it.

JACKSON LEE: You -- you are...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: But -- but that lady in that bed behind you...

JACKSON LEE: ... you are making an argument because you don't...

CAVUTO: ... that your staffer is holding up...

JACKSON LEE: ... want to hear...

CAVUTO: Congresswoman, I'm just saying...

JACKSON LEE: Neil, you're just...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: ... your staffer holding up that picture...

JACKSON LEE: You're making an argument...

CAVUTO: ... is holding up the wrong picture!

JACKSON LEE: No, the argument is annoying you because I'm right. I'm right to say that...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Congresswoman, you just told you -- I love you dearly...

JACKSON LEE: ... what we have put in place has...

(CROSSTALK)

JACKSON LEE: ... influence...

CAVUTO: ... but you just told me this woman is -- is being treated under Medicare.

Medicare wasn't part of the thing that you said would be a life-and- death matter...

JACKSON LEE: The argument is...

CAVUTO: ... with the new health care law.

Yes, you're right.

JACKSON LEE: The argument is...

CAVUTO: It is a government-provided program.

JACKSON LEE: And it is constitutional.

CAVUTO: It has nothing to do with this law.

JACKSON LEE: Her -- her care was provided by Medicare. And we need the same kind of care to be provided for children who have preexisting conditions, for 26-year-olds...

CAVUTO: I know.

JACKSON LEE: ... and under who are need to be on their parents' insurance.

CAVUTO: And you are using this woman to make a statement.

JACKSON LEE: So what?

CAVUTO: And you are...

JACKSON LEE: So what?

CAVUTO: Congresswoman, you're right to argue in defense of something you believe passionately. I am just saying you are using the wrong photograph. You're using...

JACKSON LEE: No, I'm not.

CAVUTO: ... the -- the wrong old lady.

JACKSON LEE: No, I am not. No. You are getting distracted by the photo because I'm telling the truth and you don't want to hear it.

CAVUTO: No, I am getting distracted...

JACKSON LEE: So...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: ... by the photo because it is like, in my business, if you use the wrong graphic or let's say we're referring to you, and we have got the wrong title for you, in my business, that's called messing up.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: And all I'm saying, with the highest of respect, Congresswoman, is you are messing up. You're showing the wrong image. You are showing the wrong picture.

JACKSON LEE: I'm not messing up.

CAVUTO: This lady -- and I hope she gets betters...

JACKSON LEE: And that's why -- I'm not messing up.

CAVUTO: ... but this lady is being treated on the Medicare program.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: You're right. It's another government program. But she would be treated one way or the other, with or without health care.

All I am saying...

JACKSON LEE: Neil, we're going to disagree.

CAVUTO: ... and the next time, your staffer is going to have to find a different picture.

JACKSON LEE: We're going to disagree. I'm not messing up. You don't understand the logic of my argument. It's not my fault that you can't understand logic.

But if you don't, all I can say is that my argument is that government-run health care that provides lifesaving opportunities for individuals, such as Medicare, is not unconstitutional, nor...

CAVUTO: OK.

JACKSON LEE: ... is the bill that we're debating on the floor.

I am not interested in repealing it.

CAVUTO: OK.

JACKSON LEE: The president should veto any effort to repeal it.

CAVUTO: Let me ask you real quickly, then, Congresswoman...

JACKSON LEE: I wish -- I wish the majority best wishes in their frivolous debate.

CAVUTO: ... are you...

JACKSON LEE: And I hope that we will have an opportunity to work together.

CAVUTO: Are you saying, ma'am -- are -- are you saying -- well, we could talk over each other. We're saving time.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: But are you saying...

JACKSON LEE: That's all right, Neil. Go ahead.

CAVUTO: ... that this lovely lady behind you would be dead if we didn't have this health care law?

JACKSON LEE: I am saying that this lovely lady behind me was able to use Medicare, a government-run program similar...

CAVUTO: OK.

JACKSON LEE: ... to what the attack has been on the Affordable Care Act.

CAVUTO: Gotcha.

JACKSON LEE: If she didn't have this program, she might be in jeopardy, and there are many people who will be in jeopardy if this...

CAVUTO: OK.

JACKSON LEE: ... particular health care bill is repealed.

So it is like equals, Neil. That is what I am suggesting.

CAVUTO: All right.

JACKSON LEE: One and one equals two.

And the argument is, both of them are constitutional. That is the argument that I am making, as a member of House Judiciary Committee. They are both constitutional. And I don't want to deny anyone an equal protection of the law...

CAVUTO: All right.

JACKSON LEE: ... or due process.

CAVUTO: Congresswoman, thank you very much.

JACKSON LEE: It's been good.

CAVUTO: Good seeing you.

JACKSON LEE: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

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