Interviews

Schakowsky: GOP health care plan is 'deader than a doornail'

Illinois Democrat weighs in on 'You World'

 

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," March 7, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST:  Now Democratic Illinois Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky.

Congresswoman, thank you for your patience through all these developments and press conferences.  

Congresswoman, what do you think of the plan of you have heard outlined?  A lot of details, we don't know, and a lot of devils in those details, I'm sure.  But what do you make of what you have been hearing?  

REP. JAN SCHAKOWSKY, D-ILLINOIS:  Well, first of all, let say, as my mother would have said, I think this plan is deader than a doornail.  

This is not going anywhere.  And I'm not even talking about the critique that the Democrats have, which mostly has to do with millions of people losing their health care, while 600-plus billion dollars is going to go to the wealthier, who are going to get tax relief from the legislation.  

But if you look at what the outside groups, the Heritage Foundation and FreedomWorks and the Club for Growth, et cetera, are saying about it, plus, when you have got four senators and you have got a number of House members, including the Freedom Caucus, that are saying no, and governors like my governor, different from the former -- the previous governor you were talking to, he's concerned because we were -- we are a Medicaid expansion state.  

And, actually, one out of four Illinoisans get Medicaid.  So, that would be pretty much of a disaster for the state of Illinois budget and for about three million Illinoisans.  

CAVUTO:  Then, let me ask you, Congresswoman, about that.  I think the tax benefits you were talking about would be the surtaxes for the wealthy that partly funded this Affordable Care Act.  

And then now the question going forward, I think the Republicans have pushed back removing those until next year at the earlier.  But, having said, that it was an acknowledgement -- I don't whether you felt this way and any of your Democratic colleagues -- that something had to be done to fix this, that it was not sustainable as things were going.  

Now, I don't know what those fixes could have been.  But one idea was to tax more, maybe curtail some of the benefits or provide more market force benefits, but that the way it was going, the way it is going -- and I know you're not a plan of this plan -- not sustainable.  Do you agree with that?  

SCHAKOWSKY:  Well, yes, let me just say that, really, for the seven years that the Affordable Care Act has been out there, we have been wanting to sit down with our Republican colleagues.  

We know that networks have been narrowing.  We think that we could do much better in terms of providing benefits and affording those benefits and making sure that more -- even more people are covered.  

The president of the United States has said, how about lowering the cost of prescription drugs?  We would like to see negotiation under Medicare, which would save a lot of money.

So, of course, we understand a big program like that, it does have a number of problems.  We have seen them in Illinois.  

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO:  But, Congresswoman, do you think the problem in both plans, the Democratic plan and this one, whatever -- however it advances, insurance companies?  The rap seems to be that they continue setting the tone, the costs and the tune, just as they did under the Affordable Care Act, and that gives them far too much sway and power?  

What do you think?  

SCHAKOWSKY:  Well, I agree with that.

And that's one of the reasons that I have proposed a public option.  There are so many counties right now where there's one insurance -- insurer available.  I think if there were a public option available, it would not only bring down prices, but it would create competition and people would have a choice.

CAVUTO:  Are you sure of that?  A lot of people look at that, Congresswoman, and say, the last thing you want is the government in that central and powerful a role, because that's what it would end up being.  

SCHAKOWSKY:  Well, that's what some people think.  

But there's a lot of people who think they want their health care, they want to have another choice.  And people love Medicare, which is a public program.  And the idea of having one within the Affordable Care Act, I think, is very positive for a lot of people.  

CAVUTO:  But, Congresswoman, do you see that -- and I see this on the left and the right.  I'm just curious, that the problem always seems to be getting young people, more to the point, to sign up.  

Now, I know Republicans are looking at it, and they give them a $2,000 tax credit to incentivize them.  I often think, Congresswoman -- I don't know what you think -- that even if you gave them a $10,000 credit, they just feel they're bulletproof.  They feel that they're indestructible.  

We were all there, I guess, at one time.  But I'm just wondering if that is the problem, that you cannot change the math when young people in particular, the healthy ones, who would supposedly absorb a lot of the costs for older, sicker patients, don't sign up?

And there's little in the Republican plan that I see that would do that, just as there seemed to be little in evidence in the Democratic plan to date, the health care law as we know it to date, that does that.  

SCHAKOWSKY:  Well, first of all, let me say that, in order to try and entice more young people, they're saying that we can charge senior citizens five times as much for their health care, which would really put seniors in a very bad position.  

I agree with you.  It's a challenge to get young people.  But that's one of the reasons I think the mandate is important.  And, of course, it's not...

CAVUTO:  The mandate being demanding that you get health care or pay a penalty?  

SCHAKOWSKY:  That's right, or pay a fine for not getting it, right.

CAVUTO:  Right.  The Republicans don't have that in their plan.  

SCHAKOWSKY:  No, they don't.  

But I do think that you're not going to see many sick young people that don't have health insurance.  So, it's going to be a challenge.  But we have to take that up to make sure that young people do understand the importance of insurance.  

Look, you have to get auto insurance.  I don't care what age you are.  And we think that it's important for people to get health care at any age.  

CAVUTO:  But you mentioned the auto insurance.  I think that's a very good example, Congresswoman, that if you have accidents or a problematic history, you pay more because of that.  

Do you think that is the way that health care coverage should go as well?  

SCHAKOWSKY:  Well, I hadn't really thought about that, that...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO:  I only say that because I get a lot of speeding tickets, Congresswoman, and I know that from firsthand.  

(LAUGHTER)

SCHAKOWSKY:  Well, be careful.  

But, no, I haven't thought about that.  But I do recognize there's a challenge getting a more age-diverse population in insurance.  But I don't think the answer is to say 5-1, senior citizens will pay that much more than young people.  I think that's a real dangerous proposal.  

CAVUTO:  All right, I don't know those numbers, per se.

But, Congresswoman Schakowsky, thank you very much for taking the time.  

SCHAKOWSKY:  My pleasure.  Thank you.  

CAVUTO:  All right.  

END

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