Calling the President's Health Care Bluff - One Line at a Time

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," July 30, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: President Obama is probably kicking himself tonight. He said something that he probably regrets big time.

Remember when President Obama made this offer?


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I just want everyone to know, Congress will have time to read the bill and have time to debate this bill. They will have all of August to review the various legislative proposals.

When we come back in September, and I will be available to answer any question that members of Congress have. If they want to come over to the White House and go over line by line what is going on, I will be happy to do that.


VAN SUSTEREN: Line by line.

Congressman Phil Roe wants to take President Obama up on that offer. Congressman Roe is also a doctor and joins us live. You're going to take the president up on his offer.

REP. PHIL ROE, R - TENN.: I certainly hope to. We sent a letter to the White House today suggesting that we do just that. And I hope he invites me over.

VAN SUSTEREN: You would really go over to the White House to go through line by line?

ROE: I would certainly do that.

VAN SUSTEREN: How does he save face on this one?

ROE: I don't know. I am not worried about him saving face or me saving face or whatever. What I want to see happen is that we understand this very complicated plan. It is extremely complicated. And I spent 31 years in practice of medicine, this is very complicated.

VAN SUSTEREN: That is why I call it the coffee summit, because now he's going to -- I am starting to go through this. This is not the most exciting read, but it is extremely important.

But I think the two of you are going to need a lot of coffee if you go line by line. Oddly enough, I think that is important, and I would like to see you bring a bunch of colleagues over and go through it too.

ROE: Greta, it's the most important piece of social legislation since Medicare in 1965. This will affect us every single American in a very personal way. And having practiced medicine, I believe that health care decisions should be made between patients, their families, and their doctor. And this particular --

VAN SUSTEREN: How about insurance companies?

ROE: They are not on my Christmas card list. They need -- there needs to be insurance reform. That's something we both agree on.

And when they brought this public option out, that's the big stumbling block is how much are we going to inject the government into a personal decision made by you and your family? And in Tennessee, we had a plan back in the 90's are we wanted to increase access and quality. We got a waiver from the HHS to do this plan.

And what happened was the state was spending about $2.5 billion per year on health care. Ten, 11 budget years later it was up to one-third of the state budget, $8.5. billion.

And what happens in a public plan, this is where it gets complicated, but the public option paid less than 60 percent of the cost of the care, and Medicare pays about 80 percent to 90 percent of the cost, shifting those costs to private insurers.

VAN SUSTEREN: I make a big joke and talk about the coffee summit and the whole thing about whether the president will really follow through on reading line by line. But I'm actually -- it actually is profoundly important that everybody read this, because, as you say, it is going to -- whether it's a good bill or a bad bill, you should at least read it to make that judgment. It is little bit like saying -- picking sides on a police officer, professor Gates thing. Have your information first.

Are you willing to attempt hold the president's feet to the fire and to actually go through it with you?

ROE: I absolutely am. I came here for one purpose, and that's certainly to represent the people of my district, but I knew this important legislation was coming up. I've spent a career serving patients. And the problem with the public plan is it will ultimately end up, I believe, if you follow the Tennessee model, with a single-payer system. The only way single-payer systems work is they ration care. They decide who and how much care is given.

VAN SUSTEREN: But that is the second question, almost. Before you can even get to the point whether the proposal is good, you have to at least read it. That is where I am still hung up on. And I hope that you get a bunch of colleagues on both sides of the aisle and take the trip up the road and go through it.

ROE: I think probably there are going to be a lot of letters tomorrow at the White House.

VAN SUSTEREN: I hope there are more letters. I think it's really important, know what you're going to vote on. And I hope the president knows what he is proposing.

ROE: Well, this was too big not to. Greta, it's really.


VAN SUSTEREN: It's not naming a national park.

ROE: No, or a post office.

VAN SUSTEREN: Or a post office. Anyway, Congressman, good luck. I hope you get a letter back from the White House because I'm sure the president is furious at himself for making that promise. But let us know what he says.

ROE: Thanks. Thanks a lot. Thanks for having me on.

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