Health Insurance or Jail?

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This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," October 6, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Congressman John Shadegg just introduced a resolution about a problems he sees in the health care bill that could affect you directly. Joining us live is Congressman John Shadegg. Good evening, Congressman. So I see you brought all your homework and your research. So first of all, what's the problem?

REP. JOHN SHADEGG, R - ARIZ.: Well, the problem is that in August (INAUDIBLE) a bill that might fine us, and now we've discovered that the bill has criminal penalties.

VAN SUSTEREN: How's -- I mean, like, in what way? I mean, if I don't do something under the bill, I could get charged criminally?

SHADEGG: What the bill says is that this is a tax. If you don't buy health insurance and you don't by government-approved health insurance, then they will impose a tax on you and they told you how much the tax was. But unfortunately, the code says that if you don't pay the tax, that's a misdemeanor, and we can fine you more, in this case, an additional $25,000. And on top of that, we can put you in jail for up to a year.

So the bill that we're all upset about in August because we thought it had some fines it if people didn't buy the government-approved health insurance, we now discover has an additional $25,000 in fines and jail time.

VAN SUSTEREN: What -- what's the response when you point this out to your colleagues?

SHADEGG: You know, I thought the idea of health care reform was to help the uninsured...

VAN SUSTEREN: Not (INAUDIBLE) actually -- actually, in some facilities, jail facilities, you can get medical care!

SHADEGG: There we go.


VAN SUSTEREN: ... thinking.

SHADEGG: Somebody said it'll solve the housing crisis, you know?

VAN SUSTEREN: Solve everything all at once!

SHADEGG: So if you don't buy government-approved health insurance -- and that's an important part of it. If you, for example, have an HSA and the government doesn't approve it and you don't go buy another plan, you get fined or maybe go to jail.

VAN SUSTEREN: Can you...

SHADEGG: If you want to go to a naturopath or a homeopathic, no, no, no. That's not approved by the government.

VAN SUSTEREN: I'm not suggesting that anyone should get into trouble with the law, but can you imagine anything so bizarre as to put, like -- let's say you can't afford insurance for whatever reason -- that, I mean, can you imagine the sheriff going out and running you in, throwing you in jail? I mean, it is theoretically possible under what you tell me.

SHADEGG: People find it bizarre, but it shows how far we've gotten away from what we ought to be focused on. We ought to be focused on bringing down the cost of health care for every American so they can afford it, deal with preexisting conditions, deal with people who can't buy coverage, help them buy coverage, not punish them with fines. Obama had it right in the campaign when he said if you can't afford coverage to begin with, how much better off are we to fine you? But the big insurance companies...

VAN SUSTEREN: Or send you to jail!

SHADEGG: Yes, or send you to jail. The big insurance companies are mad that these fines in the bill are being reduced. But you know what else is in the bill, Greta? This is amazing, and I brought this up in committee. The bill not only says you and I have to buy health insurance, but if it's an ERISA plan, which means if it's an employer-provided plan, the health insurance company gets immunity if, when they decline care, when they don't give you care, you are injured or killed, they are immune from damages.

VAN SUSTEREN: So the -- so the Democrats are giving a pass to the insurance companies.

SHADEGG: I raised that with...

VAN SUSTEREN: (INAUDIBLE) ever say, like, to Speaker Pelosi, Hey, what's up with this? You're going to send poor people to jail because they can't buy the health insurance because they're going to get this penalty and they're going to end up in jail and why are you giving insurance companies a pass on something like this?

SHADEGG: I tried to raise it in committee. I asked Henry Waxman. It's on page 49 of the bill. It says that the current law that says if an insurance company injures or kills you (INAUDIBLE) a case involving Florence Corcoran, where an insurance company killed her baby because they wouldn't give her the care that her treating physician said they need -- she needed -- they sued...

VAN SUSTEREN: Interfering with the doctor.

SHADEGG: Interfered with the doctor, overruled her treating physician. She filed suit. The court came back and said, No, Congress says you have absolute immunity. That immunity is extended in this bill. I raised it with Henry Waxman. I offered an amendment to repeal that so that you could recover if they intentionally kill your child, and Mr. Waxman said it's out of order.

And I said, Mr. Waxman, who put it in the bill? Mrs. Pelosi says she's not in bed with the insurance companies. Mr. Obama is welcoming their support for this bill. So who put it in the bill? And he turned bright red because he didn't want to talk about who wrote this bill. He doesn't want to talk about the fact that the big insurance companies like the bill and like the fact that they've got immunity to continue hurting people.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, we literally have 10 seconds left. Do you have any Democrat on your side on this?

SHADEGG: I think that they have pulled out every single stop. There will be Democrats who will vote against the bill. I -- I had a couple...

VAN SUSTEREN: But about this particular jail provision?

SHADEGG: I had -- a had a congressman on the other side, a Democrat, come over to me after I raised it and said, Well, I want to work with you on this.


SHADEGG: He never came back.

VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, thank you, sir.

SHADEGG: My pleasure.

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