Published January 14, 2015
This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," October 8, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Well, we heard this challenge at many town halls. If government-run health care would be so great, will members of Congress step to the plate and sign up for it? So that brings up the question, what exactly is the health care plan given to members of Congress?
The other night, right here "On the Record," we asked Republican congressman Pete Hoekstra to tell us, and he's a good sport. He accepted the assignment, and he's back to report. Congressman Hoekstra joins us live.
Good evening, Congressman, and thank you very much for doing this research on your program -- on your health -- how it compares. But I just -- I want you -- I want you to explain it, but first of all, I just want to ask one quick question. Under your current plan, you have a health savings account. Under the HR-3200, that goes away. And what is it, and why does that make a difference?
REP. PETE HOEKSTRA, R - MICH.: Well, a health savings account really puts a lot more decision making on me and my wife as to exactly what procedures, what health care options or accessories or health care benefits we are going to access, how we're going to access it. Are we going to go to the emergency room, or are we going to go wait to go to the doctor? So it's a high-deductible plan. It puts more decision making in our hands. Under HR-3200, the president's plan, these types of high-deductible plans, which have lower premiums, will no longer be available. They're not allowed under HR-3200.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, so compare -- compare HR-3200 in general to the plan that you have and -- and which one do you personally prefer for yourself and your wife?
HOEKSTRA: Well, we obviously like the health savings account. But you know, what -- every November, every federal employee, including every member of Congress, has the option to go to this large booklet that outlines all of the different plans that may be available to us. We then look at our particular state, what plans are available in our state, and then for those of us that get health care in our districts, you know, what plans are available in our district.
We then have an option to pick a plan. We pick from among all private insurance plans. There is no public option. We -- the federal government, in providing health care to its employees, has decided that we can get competition without inserting a federal plan.
High-deductible plans are available. We do -- we cover no abortions. No abortion procedures are covered in any federal plans. And then the reimbursement rates to health care providers are decided through negotiations between the insurance company and the health care provider.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, in looking -- in terms of looking at what we call chart 3 that we got -- that we received from you, and one is -- on the chart 3, we have your plan, we have the UAW plan, and we have a private company plan. I looked at it. I want the UAW/GM plan. That looks like it wouldn't cost me a dime! That looks like a good plan.
HOEKSTRA: The UAW -- yes, the UAW plan is a very good plan. The UAW worker, at least with the information that we were able to determine -- we asked General Motors for the specifics of the UAW plan. They were unwilling to share that information with us. Even though, as a federal government employee, I'm a major shareholder of that company, they were unwilling to share that information with us. You know, I pay about 30 percent of the premiums for the value of my program. And so yes, the UAW - - it is a great plan. It's -- and the federal government plan -- it's not a bad plan, but it's not as good as the UAW plan.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, except for the sort of the odd twist with the UAW plan is that in some ways, we're paying for that. And of course, your state is paying for that. You have a terrible unemployment rate in your state, and it's -- which is essentially -- which is a hugely automotive industry state. But now the federal government -- we're sort of picking it up and -- are we not sort of paying this, as taxpayers, indirectly, this great UAW plan?
HOEKSTRA: The UAW workers, they ought to be very grateful to the American taxpayers because as we now own a significant share of General Motors, we are providing these workers with this health care package. And the company and the UAW is unwilling to share that information with the American taxpayers as to exactly what's in that plan.
Actually, Greta, it's pretty outrageous that General Motors was unwilling to share that information with us and to share the specifics with you and with me tonight.
VAN SUSTEREN: And because especially since they -- you know, we have such a huge contribution -- "we" meaning the taxpayers.
HOEKSTRA: That's right.
VAN SUSTEREN: In studying your health care plan, the one that you have, and HR-3200, the plan -- and all these charts, what -- what stood out to you most of all?
HOEKSTRA: Well, I think two things, that when the federal government decided to offer insurance to all of its employees, it said, You know what? We don't need to put in place a public option. There's plenty of choices out there in the private sector. That is the most effective way to offer health care to our employees.
The other thing is, you find very few programs that are available nationwide. You know, I've got -- the plan that I have may not be available in Ohio, may not be available somewhere else. And what the federal government wants to do, which will be a competitive advantage, it will provide, you know, a public option nationwide.
The other thing that is inherently unfair, the HR-3200 will reimburse health care providers at the Medicare rate. The Medicare rate is significantly lower than what an insurance company has to pay a health care provider. So in effect, you know, a private insurance company is not going to be able to survive, Greta, because they're going to be having to pay for health services -- they're going to be paying significantly more with the - - than what the public option is paying health care providers. By definition, it means they go out of business!
VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, thank you. You're a good sport to do all that homework, report back to us. Appreciate it. Thank you, Congressman.
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