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As you listen to people talk about the health care bill, what is your sense of what they object to? Is it what is in the bill, or the process of putting it together?
Let me ask you a question. What's in the bill?
Well, I've been covering it for a year, so I kind of know.
What's in the bill now? What's the final version of the bill? No one really knows what's in the bill because every time we turn around, there is a new backroom deal with a carve-out. I've read the bills too.
You have to look at it two different ways. I have to look out as the United States Senator for Massachusetts as to what we've done [in the state]. We have a [law achieving near universal coverage] that passed unanimously. Bipartisan. Voted for it, worked on it, happy to do it. We passed it. We went from paying over almost $1 billion to the hospitals in the uncompensated health care pool to paying much less and now providing when people walk in the door, they get a form of insurance.
So why would we take a bill that we have that has great plans, top to bottom everyone gets exactly what they want, and if they are not covered, they go to a hospital why would we take that plan and then [accept] a one-size-fits-all plan where the Federal Government is going to take and potentially hurt jobs, tax medical devices? We're talking about 220,000 jobs potentially being affected, cutting half a trillion from Medicare, affecting Tricare for veterans, having potentially longer lines in competing plans and subsidizing Nebraska and other types of situations.
Can you tell me, can anyone please tell me, how that is good for us?
But people say the health care bill is the Massachusetts plan taken nationally.
It's not. That's not true. There are certain component parts of it, of course. The fact that we have made an effort to insure everybody. But we passed our plan without cutting Medicare. We didn't raise taxes. It was all self-sufficient. It was done through a free-market system where people could go in and [comparison shop] for a plan, and if they couldn't afford it, they would get a form of government subsidy.
But this plan that they are pushing has so many special-interest carve-outs right now [that] people have lost faith in it. There is no tort reform in it. There's certainly the cuts in Medicare and the taxes on medical-device companies. It's totally different as to how they get to the final product.
But ultimately you say the primary objection people have is not so much the substance of the bill; it's the process as much as anything else.
No. The primary [concern] for the average voter and I've met hundreds of thousands of people since I've been [campaigning] the biggest problem that I have heard is that No. 1, we can't afford it, and No. 2, they don't like how it's been done behind closed doors. They don't like the political maneuvering now.
It's not even a conference committee. They are bouncing it back and forth pursuant to a special maneuver. That just says to people [that] it's automatically "Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding." It's raising red flags, and people don't trust it. We can bring it back to the drawing board and do it again.
One possibility that people in Washington are talking about now is to ask the House to pass the Senate bill.
That's what I was talking about, the political maneuvering.
If they try that, what do you think the fallout will be?
I think they'll pay for it dearly in 2010. I think people will be outraged, regardless of party, if they let that happen. And right now, the majority party seems to be the party pushing it through. What's the hurry? I mean, really, if we are going to do something, let's do it right.