Were Deals Dropped in Health Care Bill?

This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," March 22, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, ANCHOR: All right, joining me right now, also out of the Washington area — not also, but in Washington — with me is Representative Chris Van Hollen, the key number two to Nancy Pelosi. The speaker wouldn't talk to us, but the congressman was good enough to fill in — not fill in. He's a very big cheese in his own right.

Congressman, you feeling pretty good?

REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN D-MD.: I am, Neil. I'm feeling pretty good, because we have been hearing stories from our constituents about skyrocketing insurance premiums and other problems that our constituents have had with an insurance industry run system. And we are beginning to change that. And this is, I think, an important turning point.

CAVUTO: Is it, though, or a Pyrrhic victory?

A lot of folks who were angry outside the Capitol yesterday, congressman, said that you defied the will of the people. You rammed something through. You've heard it all. And then it got nasty in the final statements of debate last night, with Mr. Boehner, the minority leader, calling for a roll call. Not one of his suggestions was taken up or even addressed by the speaker when she spoke.

I don't know the formality of the protocol when you have these events, but it seemed like things could not be worse between the two parties.

VAN HOLLEN: Well, unfortunately, some of the nastiness outside the chamber spilled onto the chamber floor.

I don't want to go into great detail. I think you know that one of the Republican members said some very nasty things. And I think we should all move on. But the fact of the matter is, members of Congress need to lead by example. They need to be examples of responsibility, not examples of irresponsibility. And I hope that that kind of, you know — some of the ugliness that was outside the chamber doesn't...


VAN HOLLEN: ... doesn't spill into the chamber again.

CAVUTO: Well, then, lo and behold, the speaker said something today that raised eyebrows and started the nastiness all over again.

Congressman, if you can just give a quick ear to this.




PELOSI: A lot of bets were made on the numbers, sort of like a pool. No money exchanged hands, of course.



CAVUTO: All right, that was last night. No money exchanged hands.

Now, the reason people were raising their eyebrows on that is, there were a lot of deals here. There were a lot of kind of sweetheart agreements to move votes. Now, I'm not saying that's just a purely Democratic tool. Republicans have used it many times.

But is that fair for her to all but state that didn't happen?

VAN HOLLEN: Oh, come on, Neil. Obviously, the speaker was talking about the fact that there was all sorts of speculation within the press corps and everywhere else about what the vote would be, just as we all fill out our brackets for March madness.

No, the fact of the matter is that the special deals that were added in the Senate have been taken out of this bill. They should never have been in there. And they have been taken out. The Nebraska deal was taken out. The Florida-New York deal was taken out. The Bank of Bismarck deal was taken out.

You're absolutely right. Those provisions that got included in the Senate bill, understandably, ticked off a lot of people. They ticked — they ticked me. They ticked off a lot of people. But they're out of there.

CAVUTO: But — that — that Senate bill has enough of that — that Senate bill has enough of that stuff on it. That's the one that ultimately — I know you're going to address this in reconciliation, but it has enough of that stuff — and that's the one that is signed into law by the president tomorrow — that a lot of people are saying, well, wait a minute.

Now, I know you guys and the president don't like to make a big deal of process, but that's a process that sickened a lot of Americans, right?

VAN HOLLEN: I don't think it sickens anybody.

What — in the House, we passed a bill. And, last night, we also passed the amendments, the changes to the bill that got rid of those special deals. And, ironically, when our Republican colleagues voted against the changes, the amendments, they voted against taking out those special deals.

And, so, when this amendment goes to the Senate...

CAVUTO: No, actually, what they voted against — no, no, what they voted against was the bill itself. Now, yes, you're right to say some of the changes came out, but they voted against the bill itself.


VAN HOLLEN: Neil, we had — we had two votes, Neil, right? There was a vote on the Senate bill, and then there was a separate vote to change certain things in the Senate bill, for example, to get rid of the Nebraska deal, to get rid of New York and Florida deals. And that's what that second vote was all about.

And a lot of our Republican colleagues opposed that.

CAVUTO: So, you don't think it led — all right, let me just be clear, because I'm confused then, and I apologize if I am — that special allowances were not made to special states concerned about everything from Medicaid funding and how they would be compensated, to Medicare costs and how they would be addressed, yes or no?

VAN HOLLEN: No, the — no, no. The special deals were taken out. There are issues, very legitimate issues, throughout the country, about regional disparities.

For example, a lot of the hospitals in the Midwest...

CAVUTO: Right. I understand that.

VAN HOLLEN: ... that provide — no, but — but those are issues that have been debated. I mean, those are not trying to pick one little special deal in the bill for a vote. I mean, those are genuine...

CAVUTO: But, Congressman, then what...


CAVUTO: But it's these issues that might be dismissed in court, as you say, but there are now 11 state attorneys general who think they're egregious enough, and the sort of strong-arming that Congress has used is noteworthy enough, that they're suing you guys. What do you make of that?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, there are a lot of attorney generals that do not like the health care reform bill, just like the insurance industry is spending millions of dollars on television to try and defeat it, because they like the status quo.

I mean, that issue takes us to the heart of the overall reform bill. And, as you were saying earlier in your — your program, the fact of the matter is, if our Republican colleagues want to run on repeal this bill, they will be running on trying to deny people the benefits, for example, seniors, who are going to get more help paying for prescription drugs.

This bill will protect insurance companies from denying kids health care based on preexisting — but when people say, repeal this bill, they're saying, let the insurance industry have its way again on all those issues; a fight that we're willing to have. I think it's a fight we're willing to have.

CAVUTO: All right.

Congressman, I'll tell you what. I will give you a lot of credit. You always come on. You always talk to us.

Give our best to the speaker and tell her the invite lies as well and that we don't bite. But you're — you're a great guest. We will see how this goes. Thank you very much.

VAN HOLLEN: Good to be with you, Neil. Thanks.

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