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Special Report

Friday Lightning Round: Premiums for overweight and smokers

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," June 3, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER,ANCHOR: Every week viewers vote for your choice online in this our
Friday Lightning Round poll. And this week, higher premiums for overweight
people and smokers won with 34 percent of the votes. Take a listen to this. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here's the real irony. On the very same day the federal government comes down with a regulation saying employers can charge their employees 50 percent more for smoking, 30 percent more for obesity if they do not participate in the wellness programs. On that very same day a study funded by the federal government found that the wellness programs really don't work.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: We're back with the panel. We'll start there. Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: This is to be expected. He is absolutely right, wellness does not help. The same way that we spend $8 billion a year on Head Start, it has no effect after the third grade. It doesn't matter. If you're a liberal, these ideas are theological. Wellness and prevention are the way to save money. There have been extensive studies that show the mass programs of screening, they could help individuals, but as to saving money in health care, it adds immensely onto the cost. It's not a way to save money.

BAIER: Kirsten?

KIRSTEN POWERS, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK POST: Well, I hate to disagree with the doctor on the panel. But, look, you cannot possibly be saying that smoking does not contribute to higher health care costs or obesity does not contribute to higher health care costs. I don't think that I should have to pay for that. I think people should have to pay higher premiums for that kind of stuff. If they want to pay lower premiums, then they can stop smoking or they can lose weight. Is this now the Republican Party is the party of smoking and obesity?

KRAUTHAMMER: It's the party that says that wellness programs and mass prevention and screenings add to the cost of health care --

DAVID DRUCKER, REPORTER, ROLL CALL: I think the issue is, is it -- it's one thing for private insurance companies to make up rules about what is going to -- who is going to pay for what, and it's another for the government to do it, how do people feel about that. Ironically, in the unfortunate event that somebody who is a obese or a smoker gets a serious disease, healthier people are paying for it under the --

POWERS: What do you mean if they get a disease? You mean when they get a disease, because we know that these things lead to disease --

(CROSSTALK)

DRUCKER: My point is, because of the Affordable Care Act, you as a healthier person are going to be paying for it.

POWERS: No, I already pay for it. It's already built in to all of our premiums.

BAIER: You can continue the list, obviously, of things that you shouldn't do. And overweight and smokers --

(CROSSTALK)

KRAUTHAMMER: It's the insurance companies who raise your premiums if you smoke because of the actuarial results. Right now the actuarial results are thrown out, insurers have to do what the Democrats in the White House have decided is unhealthy. And soon it will be 18 ounce pop drinks.

POWERS: And they will be making us eat broccoli.

BAIER: It was a lightning round, we just left the lightning --

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

BAIER: We are going to go to winners and losers.

KRAUTHAMMER: Sorry about that.

BAIER: That's OK.

KRAUTHAMMER: We got a bit carried away.

BAIER: We did. David, let's go winner first then loser.

DRUCKER: Congressional Republicans at least this week, because the latest, freshest polling shows that the president's taken a bit of a hit because of all the issues he is dealing with. It means they can continue to investigate these scandals, if you will, as they were going to do anyway, and at least there's no voter reaction yet in terms of overreach.

Loser is Jim Graves of Minnesota six. The minute Michele Bachmann retires he drops out of the race. He probably would have won. And with her out of the race, it's a safe Republican seat, and I think he recognized that and so much for his congressional career.

BAIER: Kirsten.

POWERS: Loser is the free press and the winner is government unaccountability for the administration being able to hold this off-the-record briefing which then some people negotiated into getting sort of some stuff on the record. But the people who went to this briefing made it so that the government can continue to do the things off the record if they want to.

BAIER: Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: Loser FBI apart from all the other incidents. There's a strange story. They are interrogating a guy in Orlando who is a friend of the elder Tsarnaev who confesses that he and the elder Tsarnaev were involved in a triple killing in 2010, which opens a whole new line of inquiry, and the guy is shot immediately in the interrogation. He was not armed, the father is saying it was a plot. I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but this will launch 1,000 Jack Ruby conspiracy theories.

Winner, Vladimir Putin and Bashar Assad. Putin swindled our secretary of state into believing that a peace conference on Syria is going to be helpful. It will not. Our side, the rebels, don't want to attend because they understand that it will be nothing except a meeting that will re-legitimize Assad and show him to be the one who is now winning and prevailing in the civil war.

BAIER: And that was a winner.

That is it for the panel, but stay tuned for an all-star team of photo bombers.   
 

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