All-Star Panel: Latest challenges to and for ObamaCare

'Special Report' All-Star panel weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," January 28, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


DIANA ISSER, BREAST CANCER SURVIVOR: My deductible will increase 300 percent. My premium will increase 50 percent. And every time I use the emergency room, whether I have met my deductible or not, I will pay $500 versus the $75 I pay now.

SEN. TOM COBURN, R-OKLA.: If I'm doing well from a health standpoint, got great docs, and fortunately, even though my new coverage won't cover my specialist, I'm going to have great care and I have a great prognosis.


BRET BAIER, HOST: Retiring Senator Tom Coburn from Oklahoma saying that his ObamaCare doesn't cover his oncologist. You heard it there, he is going to continue to pay out of pocket and see that specialist, his office said. Also before that, a guest at the State of the Union tonight, a breast cancer survivor who is also dealing with the change of policy.

We're back with the panel. How much do you think the president will talk about ObamaCare tonight, Steve?

STEVEN HAYES, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I think he has to talk about it a little bit to try to reframe the issue. But again, I think he runs into a difficult reality when he tries to do that.

I think it's very significant that Tom Coburn said what he said today and that he introduced this rival long-term Republican plan on health care.  Tom Coburn has long been an effective spokesman on a wide variety of issues, but in particular on health care. He's a doctor, as you mentioned.  Now he will be talking about these issues as a doctor, as a patient, and as a citizen, but also someone who lost a doctor, lost his ability to see his specialist because of ObamaCare.

BAIER: Yes. Juan, you know, there are Democrats who are feeling the heat on this. Just recently retiring Congressman Jim Moran saying he thinks this thing could implode.

JUAN WILLIAMS, THEHILL.COM: I don't know why Jim Moran would say it could implode. It doesn't look like it's in any way in danger of imploding. Clearly it has become a political liability. And the question is whether or not -- we now have 3 million people enrolled -- whether or not it continues to see gains as we approach that March 31st deadline.

The larger point here I think is the polling, as the American people's attitude, which is the status quo is unacceptable. So now Republicans have put forward some ideas. But, again, these are ideas that don't include things like, you know, taking away the caps on what insurance companies spend or allowing people with preexisting conditions to get insurance coverage. Those are major flaws in any kind of insurance plan.  What you need is a plan that's better if you want to somehow supplant ObamaCare.

BAIER: There are preexisting conditions, I think --


BAIER: In the Coburn.


BAIER: You are positive?

WILLIAMS: That's what I read --

BAIER: All right. Nina?

NINA EASTON, FORTUNE MAGAZINE: I was just going to say ObamaCare goes to the heart of these questions about the president's governance. Steve raised the right track, wrong track issue. There was a sort of burst of less negativism about the country right after Obama was elected. And you saw it, just the wrong track just goes off the charts. And it's largely over ObamaCare and this whole sense that is he not decisive and not honest because of the saying you can keep your own health care and keep your own doctors. That's really hurt him.

So he should take this opportunity to try to reestablish his credibility on the issue. My sense is he doesn't want to go down that route too far. It's politically fraught, still. There's questions about whether -- how sustainable the system is with more sick people than healthy people signing up. There's all these questions about whether your personal data is secure, the cyber security threats being raised. There is a prospect of more policy cancellations down the road. So it is pretty fraught for him to get too far into it.

BAIER: Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Let me just say that seeing Tom Coburn tells me how much we are going to miss him. He has the best hair-whisker compensation in all of Washington, and it will be missed.

Look, I think Obama's problem with ObamaCare is that it's a disaster.  I suspect what he will do is do a couple of anecdotes. There are people who have been helped, and he will find them and make it sound as if that's emblematic of the country. It is not, and I think it will be highly anecdotal, and he will simply be implying stay the course. The problem is that the promise that he made about the plan, that you can keep your plan if you like it is what undermined him entirely. And I don't think you can recover.

BAIER: OK, panel, thank you. That's it for the panel.

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