All-Star Panel: ObamaCare turns 3-years-old

'Special Report' All-Star panel weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," March 21, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


SEN. HARRY REID, D – NV, SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Three years ago this coming Saturday was a historic time in this country and in the world, actually, because the Affordable Care Act passed. It was the greatest single step in generations to help American people.

JAMES CAPRETTA, ETHICS AND PUBLIC POLICY CENTER: There has been 17,000 pages of regulations issued so far. I don't think anybody knows exactly what is in all of them.

JOHN GOODMAN, NATIONAL CENTER FOR POLICY ANALYSIS: It's amazing how much authority the Department of Health and Human Services has just to make things up as they go along. Most of what is going to happen was not actually written in the legislation. It is up to the discretion of the Obama administration.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: ObamaCare turns three on Saturday. And if fyou look at the latest Fox News polling on the health care law, you will see that a total of 55 percent, if you add them up, 55 percent want the law repealed in part or in its entirety, and 40 percent want to leave it as is or expand it. What about ObamaCare three years later? We're back with the panel. Steve?

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Well, certainly, it's the case that what the president promised is not what we are actually seeing right now. Yes, there is expanded coverage. But the idea that ObamaCare was going to be deficit-neutral, it was going to actually control costs, I think has turned out to be a charade. And if you look at the longer term projections it looks even more unlikely today than it did when they were engaged in the budget gimmickry that allowed it to pass.

What I think is interesting on the political side is how Republicans are treating this issue right now. There is a debate inside the Republican Party about whether it's wise to continue talking about ObamaCare. And on the one hand you have a group that says in effect this is over, this is done. We should tweak it, we should try to improve it, do what we can. But let's not focus on this too much because it's in the past and it's part of a discussion of austerity.

On the other side you have people who think talk about it all the time because implementation is proving very difficult and it will be more difficult as we go along and redound to Republicans' benefit.

BAIER: Because frankly, Juan, the second group there of Republicans believes that the thing could crater. It could just not work.

JUAN WILLIAMS, SENIOR EDITOR, THE HILL: Correct. And that is a possibility. I think that that comment that we just heard, that there are thousands of pages of regulations that people haven't read is absolutely true. I don't care if you're a Democrat or Republican that is a fact. There is a lot of mystery there.

Now let me say, from the political standpoint that what you see is Democrats -- Harry Reid there talking about that this is a generational accomplishment. You can go back to Harry Truman, you can come forward, presidents over the years, Republicans, Democrats have all sought a way to offer universal health care in this country. President Obama accomplished it.

Republicans overwhelmingly, I think it's 80 percent of Republicans, are in opposition to the affordable health care act, and it's pretty close, I think high 70-80s percent of Democrats are in support of it. We had an election -- didn't play out as a major issue given that Mitt Romney had a similar plan in Massachusetts. But when you look at it today I think that you really have to compare, especially given what Steve is saying, the status quo, which is it's a huge burden on individuals, families, and corporate America as it stands now, health care costs, versus trying to implement something that is intended to reduce those costs.

BAIER: I guess when you hear doctors who are opposed to ObamaCare, or concerned about it, they talk about the $18 million added to Medicaid and they talk about already a doctor shortage and that underpayment for Medicare already happens. And if you think there is a shortage now, just wait until this thing kicks in in 2014. I guess that is the biggest thing you hear.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: And it points to the distinction between health insurance and real health care. You could have sham health insurance, which a lot of Americans are going to get. But if you don't a doctor, if doctors refuse to treat because of the payment schedules that are obscenely low that no doctor will take, and already today Medicare patients are turned away from a lot of doctors, if that becomes widespread there's going to be no real care.

And I think the other point that is emerging as it begins implementation with all these regulation is that those of us who claimed early on that it was nationalizing health care even though it's disguised as still a private system, were absolutely right. The insurers, there's going to be hundreds of thousands of pages of regulations, obscure, arcane, written by the bureaucrats, only understood by them, and also administered, as are the waivers.

All of the power is in the hand of the government now, and it's an arbitrary one. People are going to discover that it's a system run out of Washington -- it is not a private system and I would say if you're going to go that way, go the way of the British do and honestly and simply own it instead of this pretend private health care system.

BAIER: Down the row, is ObamaCare a major issue in the 2014 elections?

KRAUTHAMMER: Absolutely and it's going to hurt the Democrats.

WILLIAMS: No. It wasn't an issue in the big election where his name was on the ballot.

KRAUTHAMMER: Because it hadn't been implemented yet.

HAYES: And it was Mitt Romney. Absolutely it's going to be a huge issue.  Republicans are making a big mistake if they don't actually campaign on it extensively.

BAIER: That's his line. That's it for the panel, but stay tuned for a big start for a new team. 

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