Interviews

Bart Stupak: I don't regret my vote for health care law

Heated debate over ObamaCare on 'Your World'

 

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," November 19, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: That was then. Where are we now? From sausage making to the law of the land, we were there each and every step of the way.

So, what was this guy up to? With us now, the former Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak, who in a sense really put it over the top, the former Michigan congressman with me now.

Do you ever regret that vote, given all the problems now?

FORMER REP. BART STUPAK, D-MICH.: No. No, I don't regret the vote. I'm proud to vote.

I always felt that health care should be a right, not a privilege in this country, one of the reasons why I ran for Congress. I'm glad to have helped accomplish that goal.

CAVUTO: Did you know that there would be these problems or that millions of American would have to pay more for their premiums or, for that matter, maybe not have health care altogether?

STUPAK: Well, there are going to be people who are going to pay more, sure sure.

I mean, the surtax on the health care bill alone in my congressional district, less than one-tenth of one percent has to pay any more. But yet I had 50,000 people in my district who are uninsured at the time who will benefit from this piece of this legislation. So when you weigh the equities of it, those of us who can afford to pay a little bit more are going to pay a little bit more for our health insurance. Those who had nothing, who never had much hope or security now have some underneath the Affordable Care Act.

CAVUTO: But that's very different with some of the surtaxes and other charges related to this. I understand what you're saying, Congressman.

But do you think that the president meant it when he said at the time if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor, if you like your health plan, you can keep your health plan, because it seems now in retrospect a lot of your colleagues knew that was impossible?

STUPAK: Well, most people can keep their health insurance.

It's really up to their employer whether or not they are going to keep it. What the president was saying, you can no longer have your insurance policy rescinded or terminated by the insurance companies. You no longer go bankrupt. You have to have a basic essential plan.

Everyone understood -- at least the legislators understood -- that there's going to be a basic plan that must have essential elements that, whether you live in Idaho or Michigan, they will be the same.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: No, you're right. We said you can't have all of this stuff, the coverage for preexisting conditions, get rid of the lifetime caps.

STUPAK: Right.

CAVUTO: All those were good and sound things and a lot of very nice things. But to assume that they would not cost was at best -- I covered it at the time -- disingenuous.

Now, I think here is where a lot of people get mad at the president and a lot of folks maybe like you who pushed this...

STUPAK: Sure.

CAVUTO: ... that it didn't get to the little asterisk in this, that - - that you could end up losing your coverage or paying a hell of a lot more for it. That was never trumpeted as something that could be very real for millions of Americans.

STUPAK: Well, I guess I disagree, because we talked about the plans -- remember, there was the bronze, the gold, the silver plans? Each plan had to have a basic set of elements?

CAVUTO: Yes, but no one said your policy was going to be dropped, Congressman. No one said that.

STUPAK: Well, if you can't -- if you're the insurance company and if you don't put forth a policy that has the basic human requirements for proper health care, why should you be selling health insurance?

CAVUTO: No, I know what you're saying now.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: We said it then. No, no, we said it then. It was unrealistic to assume that people were not going to get junked in their plans or bail out more for their plans.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: But do you think in retrospect, do you think in retrospect this was sold with a wink and a nod and that the president pulled a fast one?

STUPAK: No. No.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: You don't think -- well, then did he lie back then or did he just not say that?

STUPAK: No.

As chairman of Oversight Investigations, I did two years, three years of just hearings on the inequities in the health insurance system in our country.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: I know that. But no one ever said millions are going to pay more and millions are going to lose their coverage. I don't remember that being trumpeted.

STUPAK: Neil, Neil, but you're not telling them also that underneath the health care bill, millions are getting rebates under the medical...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: I most certainly did. I said those who don't have coverage or those who are poor, that they will get...

STUPAK: Most people don't realize that.

CAVUTO: ... some, but that the costs would be this for everyone else. So, I don't think that part was pitched, Congressman. That's what I'm saying here.

STUPAK: Nobody -- nobody said there is a free lunch here.

CAVUTO: Oh, yes, you did.

STUPAK: No one said that. No.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: But I beg to differ with you, sir.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: No, no, you're a good guy, but I'm telling you, that was never -- the unpleasant part of this, that you can't have something for nothing, was never relayed.

And I think that was the problem. No one really mentioned millions of people will have to pay more for this because once this kicks in, and these requirements kick in, these insurance companies are going to have a choice, to keep you or to charge you through the nose to keep you or to just dump you. That was never ever, ever mentioned.

STUPAK: And what -- and what we said in health care where you will no longer be kicked off your policy because of preexisting injuries, the insurance companies can't use 400 different terms to say you have a preexisting condition.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: No, I know that. I know.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: You're right. You're right. You talked about coverage for preexisting conditions.

STUPAK: That's right.

CAVUTO: You talked about keeping your kids on your policy. You talked about getting rid of lifetime caps.

STUPAK: No lifetime caps. That's right.

CAVUTO: What we said at the time, Congressman -- and you were on with us many times -- you can't pay this for nothing. It doesn't come free. These are all very good, altruistic, good people goals, but it will cost us through the nose. And that's the reality that is hitting home today.

You're a very smart guy. You cannot tell me, Congressman, in retrospect, that this is the monster you thought you wrought.

(CROSSTALK)

STUPAK: I can tell you in retrospect that the policy decisions behind the affordable health care are sound. The rollout has been a disaster. And I'm befuddled as to why it has to be such a difficult thing, especially after we did the Y2K rollout, the digital TV.

CAVUTO: No, I'm not talking about the website. That's a disaster in its own right.

I'm talking about what people discover when they do get on the site or when they do get exposed to the plans they're eligible for or how somewhat older couples who don't even have -- their childbearing years are way behind them and they're paying for pediatric coverage. The "one size fits all" thing is silly.

STUPAK: Well, it's not one size fit all.

In D.C. here, you have about 32 different plans you can choose from. So you're making decisions, not your employer.

CAVUTO: I have talked to about that many people over the last couple of weeks, Congressman, who are footing bills for things that they're way past the age for.

And they go on the site. Now this is what we have to get. And if we want to fine-select or fine-tune a policy, it is not an option for us.

STUPAK: Well, I guess I'm going to have to disagree.

Even my state of Michigan, it's -- there's about 20-some different plans you can choose from.

CAVUTO: Millions of people are telling me this, Congressman. Millions of people are there.

STUPAK: I read the editorial -- I read the editorial yesterday in The Washington Post from three different governors who said, hey, it is really working pretty well. In Kentucky of all states, that governor...

CAVUTO: Are you honestly believing that? Congressman, do you honestly believe that all these problems that millions are having are just exaggerations?

STUPAK: No, I'm not saying that everyone is exaggerating.

What I'm saying, there are going to be ups and downs in this health care rollout.

CAVUTO: All right.

STUPAK: No doubt about it. No doubt about it.

CAVUTO: OK. OK.

STUPAK: But, overall, sound piece of legislation.

CAVUTO: I don't know.

STUPAK: Let's give everybody affordable, quality...

CAVUTO: OK.

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