All-Star Panel: Finding a solution to ObamaCare

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," November 21, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: The White House today, an invite to talk to the president for some left leaning pundits and columnists and media folks, talked to the president off the record but we heard the general message from senior administration officials was we are going to fight back on ObamaCare and continue the fight.

We're back with our panel. We have been asking – well, yesterday we asked our panel, different panelists, about solutions, possible solutions here, because people are asking that all the time. What about this? How, if ObamaCare, George, starts to implode, what are the solutions that either Republicans or anybody could come up with to replace it or move forward?

GEORGE WILL, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: There's four simple things to do right away. First, this get howls, particularly from unions who negotiate these contracts, tax all employer provided health care as what it manifestly is, compensation. But make people whole from that tax increase by allowing large tax credits to enable people to go into the market and shop for their own health care. Refundable tax credits for those who pay little or no taxes.

Third, let them shop across state lines as we do for automobile insurance and, for no good reason, we are forbidden to do regarding health insurance. Fourth, health savings accounts. My goodness, you buy high deductible insurance, you get tax preferred savings, and you pay your own every day health care expenses out of your own pocket. This gives Americans skin in the game.

Fifty years ago, the person receiving the healthcare paid 48 cents of every health care dollar. Today it's 12 cents. Americans need to have more skin in the game to become shoppers; to become price sensitive. We also know, finally, we have a lot of data on high deductible insurance. We know A, people with high deductible insurance use the health care system about 14 percent less than other people do. And B, they suffer no measurable decline in public health.


STODDARD: Well, unlike George I'm not a health care policy expert and I don't think so people in the administration were either when they were putting this together. I think the way to get out of hole is to delay it immediately for a year or more during which time they obviously have to fix the way that people are going to purchase it, which is by fixing the website.

And on the substance, they need to find a way to work with insurance companies to make more plans comply with ObamaCare so that there is more choice and it's more appealing to consumers. They found a way to make them so restrictive, to leave out so many key hospitals and physicians that no one is going to like what they find out once they get on the web site. So they have to actually find a way to rework it at the substance level that they really didn't take the time and care, if you speak to people who are familiar with the negotiations on the front end.

BAIER: Steve?

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Don't rework it, end it. And once you end it, the centerpiece of any follow-on reform has to be what George mentioned, universal tax credits for the purchase of insurance. John Goodman at the National Center for Policy Analysis, who's known as the father of health savings account, came up with a plan in which he suggests tax credits for $2,500 per individuals, $8,000 per family of four, which are the same what the CBO tells us new Medicaid enrollees will cost, and give people the option of buying on the private market or jumping in to Medicaid.

BAIER: But you are talking there about upending the current system.

HAYES: Right.

BAIER: And it takes a big political lift to do that for the 80 percent who get their health care from employees, from their employers.

WILL: They will resist it tooth and nail because it's -- it's an iniquity from which they benefit, the fact that they are getting a substantial portion of their compensation. Unions, the strongest unions -- and this is the strongest reason for being in a union anymore -- is because they can use their leverage to get you untaxed compensation worth what Steve says, maybe $8,000. That's a great benefit. And the unions will resist this, but equity demands it.

BAIER: There is kind of a broad point here.

HAYES: I think actually in an interesting way, ObamaCare, if it indeed collapses and we sort of have to start over as a country we will have done Republican a tremendous favor, because if you go back and look at Republican reform proposals over the years, they all include a basic assumption, and that is that the American health care consumer is an active one, not a passive one. And it's wrong. For years we have had passive health care consumption. You might get up a bump up in your co-pay and complain about it or you might fight your insurance company on one or another charges. But you haven't been most people haven't been paying attention to health care costs in the way that George points out.

I think what ObamaCare may do, if it collapses, people have been forced now to pay attention to these things. We don't have the luxury anymore of saying yes, I'm not interested or I'm not going to pay attention or I'm sure my employer is taking care of it. Now you have to pay attention to what you are getting if for no other reason than to see what might change or how costs might go up. This new active health care consumer I think makes fertile ground for Republicans to actually make those arguments now.

WILL: Just an example of how people are paying attention. I had lunch today with a doctor who also happens to be the senator from Wyoming, Mr. Barrasso. He said all over the country doctors' offices are unusually busy right now because a lot of people are saying that shoulder of mine, I better get that attended to while I still have insurance, maybe before the first of January.

BAIER: We will continue to follow it and ask for more solutions. That's it for the panel. But stay tuned for a twist on an iconic movie scene.

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