The Line-By-Line Health Care Challenge: An Update

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," September 16, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Look at this! Look at this monstrosity! No, it's not an encyclopedia. It's the House health care bill, HR 3200. Does anybody really understand this thing? Earlier, we went to the office of Congressman Phil Roe for answers.


VAN SUSTEREN: All right, HR 3200. Now, I've had a little bit of a hard time understanding it. Maybe you can help me out.

REP. PHIL ROE, R - TENN.: Well, you said on your show -- you were very (INAUDIBLE) and you said it was incomprehensible. I would say that's absolutely correct. Trying to read this bill not only takes this document right here and this, if you got it in single pages, but it takes several other documents. Takes HHS, RS and others to -- that it references to.

VAN SUSTEREN: You mean you can't just read this bill, you got to go over to other bills someplace else.

ROE: Yes, you got to -- exactly.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Is there anything funny about the way this is written, in terms of...

ROE: Well...

VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, not humorous but that you can't understand it?

ROE: You know, this one, when you look at an essential benefits package -- the term "essential benefits package" is defined in Section 122A. Then you've got to define 122A. And I've done this exercise, and it takes you about five different references to actually see what they mean by that instead of just having it written in plain English.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. So instead of having nice linear -- so we can figure out (INAUDIBLE) you got to jump all around here.

ROE: Jump all around, exactly. And this goes with many of the -- of the references in here. You just can't read it like a narrative, like a book.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Is there anything sort of crazy, like you read one definition and it sends you to three or four different places, then you come back to where you started?

ROE: Yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: It has that?

ROE: It has that.

VAN SUSTEREN: So that you basically do a circle, and you're no better off than when you started.

ROE: Exactly.

VAN SUSTEREN: President Obama issued a challenge, and he said that, you know, After the recess, come to the White House. We'll go line by line by line. He said that at a town hall meeting back in August.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If they want to come over to the White House and go over line by line what's going on, I will be happy to do that.


VAN SUSTEREN: In you sent him a letter and said, Fine, let's do it. What happened?

ROE: Well, we sent a letter and a fax and actually e-mails. And we've done that twice. And I think next we're going to try a smoke signal and a carrier pigeon. But we'd like, in all -- in all candor, I would like to meet with him and let him, along with the other five people who asked to go along with this, the other five congressmen, and to share with him 30- plus years experience of practicing medicine what this will mean in reality. We've tried this in Tennessee. You and I talked about Tenncare, the problems with that in Tennessee. Massachusetts is having similar problems now with funding this. Nowhere in this legislation are costs adequately met.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, there are two issues. One is whether it's a good bill. Another, though, is whether it could be understood, which is why I was encouraging -- you would go to the White House and go line by line so we could see if it does make sense. Not even -- forget the substance of it, but whether anyone can understand it.

ROE: I think we need to do that. And I -- again, he needs to sit down with a doctor like myself that got up at 3:00 or 4:00 o'clock in the morning, went down to the emergency room, saw patients without health insurance and managed to work through the system.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. He's got a big staff. Have you gotten, like, even a nice pleasant reply, like, I got your message?

ROE: No.


ROE: Nothing.

VAN SUSTEREN: You mean they haven't even said, Congressman, we'll get back to you?

ROE: No. They haven't said anything, I will get back to you (INAUDIBLE)

VAN SUSTEREN: And it's coming from you personally.

ROE: Yes. We haven't heard anything from the White House.


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