'House Call' Made on the Hill

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," November 5, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Well, they call it a "House call." House Republicans and protesters gathered on Capitol Hill here in Washington. They're fighting with all they have to stop the Democrats' plans for health care reform.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kill the bill! Kill the bill! Kill the bill!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kill the bill! Kill the bill! Kill the bill!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kill the bill! Kill the bill! Kill the bill!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The biggest voice in the United States...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kill the bill! Kill the bill! Kill the bill!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kill the bill! Kill the bill! Kill the bill!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kill the bill! Kill the bill! Kill the bill!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... is your voice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kill the bill! Kill the bill! Kill the bill!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kill the bill! Kill the bill! Kill the bill!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kill the bill! Kill the bill! Kill the bill!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... the voice of the American people!

REP. TOM PRICE, R - GA.: As a physician, I've read the majority of this bill. And I've got a diagnosis, and it's legislative malpractice!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going down the tubes, so the only thing we can do is fight back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't like big government. It's just too much government.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The government should not determine what our health care choices should be.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who will kill this bill? You will!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need to retain our individual rights for health care.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's laughable to think that our government could take over something as big as our health care system and do it right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Speaker Pelosi, the American people have rejected your bill! Congressman must listen and also reject this monstrosity! We're going to win because the American people will not be denied!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: America's future begins with us! Madam Speaker, throw out this bill!


VAN SUSTEREN: Republican congressman Tom Price is also a doctor. And as you just heard, he calls the Democrats' health care bill "legislative malpractice." Congressman Dr. Price joins us live. Nice to see you, sir.

PRICE: Great to be with you, Greta. Thank you.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, this bill that the Republicans have proposed, will it cover -- how many people will it cover? Do you have any idea?

PRICE: Well, what it does is address the cost issue. And we believe that if you bring down costs significantly, then you can increase the number of folks that are covered. We also increase competition so that you also bring down costs. And we allow for folks to pool together with the purchasing power of millions so that you cover those folks with preexisting illnesses or injuries. Those are the things that the American people care about.

VAN SUSTEREN: As a practicing doctor (INAUDIBLE) what were the problems you had, I mean, that we sort of need to remedy with this?

PRICE: Right. Preexisting, I mentioned. You can't -- you ought not -- you ought not to lose your insurance if you change your job or you lose your job. That's the portability issue.

VAN SUSTEREN: And is that fixed in your bill, in the Republican bill?

PRICE: We believe it is by decreasing the costs, and also the pooling mechanism, so that if you have an awful diagnosis or an injury that you don't -- that runs up the cost, that you don't get priced out of the market and be thrown into the individual market, get priced out. So we pool folks together to be able to get that purchasing power of millions.

And then the incredible burden of malpractice, the incredible burden of liability, so that the lawsuit abuse that occurs -- it runs up the cost of defensive medicine, and then you have hundreds of billions of dollars. We address that. The Democrats don't.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, now, let me talk about malpractice for one second because a lot of these malpractice proposals are batted around. They never talk about capping the legal fees on both sets of lawyers, the ones who are suing and the ones who are doing the hourly rate. Does your proposal at least put a cap on both, so that they both have an equal incentive to try to sit down and resolve things?

PRICE: Well, any of those caps address the issue of non-economic damages. So the folks that...

VAN SUSTEREN: But that's the person who's hurt.

PRICE: Sure.

VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, the persons who are driving this are the lawyers.

PRICE: They are.

VAN SUSTEREN: And if you want the lawyers to sit down and figure out if -- because there are some legitimate -- legitimate malpractice and there are some illegitimate ones. But if you let the lawyers, you know -- you know, run amok, you know, they're going to keep fighting.

PRICE: Yes, but it's not the hourly rate that's the problem. It's the tens of millions...

VAN SUSTEREN: Oh, it is! Oh, it is!

PRICE: ... of dollars that occur with the non-economic damages.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, but see, it is. If you've got a lawyer who's being paid by the hour, he has no incentive or she has no incentive to sit down...

PRICE: OK, I'm defending the lawyers!



VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, you've got to -- if you've got someone keeps being paid by the hour, the person has no incentive to sit down and do the right thing.

PRICE: That drags out.


PRICE: That drags it...

VAN SUSTEREN: And brings 15 lawyers to a deposition and bills the lawyers, bills the insurance companies. You've got to stop that.

PRICE: Sure. Absolutely. And you can do that through other kinds of mechanisms, like arbitration, like health courts, which we've proposed in other...

VAN SUSTEREN: But if you...

PRICE: ... pieces of legislation.

VAN SUSTEREN: But even arbitration adds a whole 'nother layer of lawyers who are getting paid by the hour. You've got to stop the lawyers and force them to sit down and talk reasonably.

PRICE: What our bill does is begin the process in that direction. What the other side's bill, what the Democrats' bill, what Speaker Pelosi's bill doesn't do is anything as it relates to...

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, they don't even mention it.

PRICE: ... malpractice...

VAN SUSTEREN: They don't -- they don't touch it. The Democratic bill doesn't, right?

PRICE: They got some pilot programs and some grants. They want to study the issue. The fact of the matter is, we don't need to study the issue anymore.

VAN SUSTEREN: I'm with you on that. I can't -- I'm with you on that. Studying's going to get us nowhere.

PRICE: That's right.

VAN SUSTEREN: We need action at this point. All right, is the Democratic bill, the House bill, going to get passed?

PRICE: I think that they're breaking arms and buying people off, at this point. I think they'll pass a bill. I think that the American people will be so irate that they will suffer terribly for it because this doesn't have a chance of survival in the Senate. The Senate will be the place where the deliberative work is done and that the American's people's will will be done, hopefully.

But the issue today with the folks coming to Washington was incredibly important because they said loudly and clearly, Look, this is not the direction in which we want to go. This is not consistent with the principles of either health care or the American system of government.

VAN SUSTEREN: But it -- but they may have had a loud -- a large voice. It may have been a big draw. But unless there are members of Congress who are Democrats are voting against the bill...


VAN SUSTEREN: ... this is going to happen.

PRICE: Well, those members of Congress, those Democrat members of Congress, have to represent their constituents instead of their leadership. And that's a question that they have to answer, and I promise you they are struggling with it. You can see it in their eyes and in their body language all this week.

VAN SUSTEREN: And we always talk about the Blue Dog Democrats...


VAN SUSTEREN: ... the ones who are more conservative, who tend to focus on the fiscal issues. Are you hearing any -- are you peeling off any of those to your side, or are you losing more of those?

PRICE: Well, they -- remember, this bill was supposed to be done in July, according to the Speaker's timetable. So those folks have already been peeled off. Now, the question is how many of them the Speaker is getting back into the fold. And I don't -- they haven't got the numbers yet. If they have the numbers, they would have had the vote.

VAN SUSTEREN: And so today, how many people showed up? Do you have any idea?

PRICE: I'm a bad estimate of crowds, but tens of thousands. I've heard 25,000 to 50,000.

VAN SUSTEREN: So I take it you're not giving up, at least at this point.

PRICE: Oh, goodness, no. And whatever happens, we will not give up because the American people don't want this. And so whether it's -- whether it's now, whether it's next month are whether it's early next year or whether it's after the next election, we will make certain that the American people get a health system reform bill that respects patients and allows patients and families and doctors to make decisions.

VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, Doctor, thank you.

PRICE: Thank you.

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