Published January 14, 2015
This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," October 12, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
MARTHA MACCALLUM, FOX NEWS GUEST HOST: Hours before the Senate Finance Committee will vote on their very important health care bill and after months of being pointed at as the bad guy in the health care system, now an ominous warning from the health insurance industry itself. They had Price Waterhouse Coopers do an audit of how the Baucus bill would affect their numbers, and the report says that by 2019, the Finance Committee bill would hike insurance premiums by $4,000 for the average family -- hike them. The White House calls this a, quote, "self-serving analysis from the industry -- from the insurance industry, one of the major opponents of health insurance reform." So what is the truth in this matter?
Joining me now is David Drucker, staff writer for Roll Call. David, welcome. Good to have you here tonight.
DAVID DRUCKER, ROLLCALL.COM: Good to be here, Martha.
MACCALLUM: You know, my first question is -- we've heard the administration point the finger at the health insurance industry, you know, throughout this entire debate, so what changed? Why all of a sudden did this vilified industry in this whole story fight back?
DRUCKER: Well, you know, they've been taking shots for several months, and I think as they see that we're about to move to a point where a bill is going to hit the Senate floor and a bill is going to hit the House of Representatives floor, they've decided it's about time they start speaking up from their point of view or they're going to be left out in the cold.
You know, the drug industry made a deal with the White House. Other industries have made a deal. But part of the Baucus bill and part of the plan from the Democrats' point of view is to raise fees or taxes, if you will, on the health insurance industry to help subsidize and pay for health insurance reform. And the health insurance industry just doesn't see how it can afford to take on these new fees if it doesn't get something in return, in terms of guaranteed new customers.
But I think they decided to speak up now simply because time is running short, and if they didn't do it now, then they couldn't have any effect.
MACCALLUM: And isn't it also true that some of the modifications to this bill are -- are less profitable for them, that -- that you know, there's lower -- lower fees, lower fines imposed on people who don't go out and buy health insurance. So that's going to hurt them, right?
DRUCKER: Correct, that could hurt them. And the way the health insurance industry has looked at it is they're all in favor of reform, especially if it's a mandate that Americans must buy health insurance because it's a guaranteed customer base for them.
DRUCKER: But the way these bills have been coming down the pike, they don't feel they're going to have enough new guaranteed customers to pay for all of the fees and other mandates that are going to be swung their way, and so they see it as a problem.
MACCALLUM: You know, one of the things that struck me when looking over some of these documents involved in all this is that the administration says, Well, this -- this audit -- which, by the way, was done by Price Waterhouse Coopers, who's been in the audit business for quite some time -- they're saying this -- this whole thing only points out what could wrong. It's kind of a worst-case scenario and the cost would increase by this amount in the worst-case scenario. But one could also argue that the bill's plan, which shows all kinds of a savings in Medicare and Medicaid -- that, you know, people say, Gee, if we knew all those savings were there, why aren't we chopping them out right now -- also assumes pretty much that everything goes right, wouldn't you say?
DRUCKER: Well, of course. Obviously, if you're behind the Baucus bill, you think it's a good thing and you don't think there's going to be much of a problem. I think it's important to point out here that both the legislation that's being proposed and this study by the insurance industry make assumptions based on what they think is going to happen. And it's hard to tell at this point...
DRUCKER: ... which one is right. And look, we're only going to know through time. What is important to point out, though, is that the insurance industry's study does say that if you do nothing, prices will go up. They're just saying that the Baucus bill will cause them to go up higher.
MACCALLUM: And David, before I let you go, they're not going to leave it at this study. You say that they have ads coming out. How nasty is this fight going to get from them?
DRUCKER: Well, I think it could get pretty nasty. You know, nobody has been vilified more than the insurance industry over the past few months, and I think they're ready to start fighting back because if they wait until a bill hits the Senate floor, hits the House floor, it's going to be too late for them. So I think this thing could get tough.
MACCALLUM: Yes, big day tomorrow with that vote. David Drucker, thank you. Always good to see you, David.
DRUCKER: Good to see you, too. Thanks.
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