This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," October 22, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Democratic senator Bill Nelson has a beef with the White House. It involves your health care and a deal the White House made with the drug industry. But first, Senator Nelson on the battle over health care reform in his home state of Florida.
SEN. BILL NELSON, D - FLA.: Different political extremes got very exercised. And you know, Greta, I couldn't understand why they were getting exercised over this notion of a public option because as a former insurance commissioner, I realized that that was going to affect just a small percentage of the entire population. But I now realize that public option to both the extreme left and the extreme right has become a metaphor for Obama health reform. And you're either for it or against' it if you're in the political extremes.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I think some people, though, think -- I think most people would say that we need to reform health care, but I think the people who oppose the public option fear that it will drive private insurance out of business and as a result that they will have less options. And with all the uncertainty surrounding the whole concept of, you know, this huge shift in how we look at health care, you know, I think that's what the people's criticism was, the unknown.
NELSON: And indeed, on the other extreme, thinking that we're getting fleeced by the insurance companies and wanting some legitimate competition for those insurance companies. So you can argue the issue on either extreme, but what happened in August was they got exceptionally passionate. Passion turned into, in some cases, violence.
VAN SUSTEREN: Where was there violence?
NELSON: Well, for example, you didn't hear about all my town hall meetings because most of them were very polite, very orderly. But you heard about one of them, and that was when I was speaking to the Miami -- Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce because while I'm in talking substance in the building, outside, a pick-up truck pulls up, stopped, they get into an argument, one completely knocks out a 65-year-old demonstrator, and of course, all the press comes when he is waking up, and that's what you heard about.
VAN SUSTEREN: What about the drug industry? There was a -- a deal, for lack of a better word, at the White House, where they were going to contribute a certain percentage of what this health care was anticipated to cost. Do you find that the deal that the White House struck with the drug industry -- is that one you can live with?
NELSON: The short answer is no. And the explanation of that is I offered an amendment to have the pharmaceutical industry come up with more of a discounting their drugs for Medicare, like they discount it for Medicaid, the Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration. But I lost on a vote of 13 to 10 in the Finance Committee. This will be an issue in front of the fall Senate.
VAN SUSTEREN: Does that mean you are not going to vote for the bill with the drug deal as is, or are you going to vote for the bill with that particular deal?
NELSON: I'm going to try to influence it, and I think the pharmaceutical industry may come up with a little more sweetening of the pot. At the end of the day, just like in the committee, my amendment lost, but I still voted for the bill. I think health care reform is critical.
VAN SUSTEREN: So even if they don't come -- if the drug industry doesn't pony up more money, although you'd like it, you know, you'd vote for it as to that particular part of the bill.
NELSON: Just on -- just on...
VAN SUSTEREN: Just on that. Just on that.
NELSON: ... on that narrow issue, yes.
VAN SUSTEREN: It's not a deal-breaker for you.
NELSON: It's not a deal-breaker, but look at all the money we've got to come up with. We've got to do something for the doctors fix.
VAN SUSTEREN: Which is another issue because that's been carved out into another bill. It's not in the amount of money that the Democrats are proposing in this bill. President Obama has a threshold. He says it's not going to increase over I think $900 billion is the number. This is almost, what, $275 billion, this doctor fix?
NELSON: It's $250 billion, rounded.
VAN SUSTEREN: It's $250 billion. Where are we going to get that cash? And I assume that no one wants to cheat the doctors.
NELSON: Well, that's over a 10-year period.
VAN SUSTEREN: We still got to pay for it!
NELSON: We've got a one-year fix in the Senate Finance Committee bill. I think we ought to look at a five-year fix and come up with the money, which would be $120 billion, maybe a three-year fix. We don't want this to torpedo health care reform. We need to get that done and -- but we've got to come up with some money to pay for it. I voted against the doctors' fix because it was to paid for. We can't keep adding to the deficit like we've been doing.
VAN SUSTEREN: There's much more of this interview, and you can see the entire interview with Senator Nelson on GretaWire.com. The full interview will be there. Make sure you check it out.
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