Elizabeth Edwards Debates Tommy Thompson On Health Care Reform

August 19, 2009 CNN Part 1 [media id=9524] KING: In Raleigh, North Carolina, Elizabeth Edwards, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress,

August 19, 2009 CNN

Part 1

KING: In Raleigh, North Carolina, Elizabeth Edwards, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, primarily focusing on health care issues. She's the wife of the former Democratic vice presidential candidate, John Edwards, and "The New York Times" best-selling author of "Resilience."

And Madison, Wisconsin, Tommy Thompson, who was the secretary of Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush and is the former Republican governor of Wisconsin.

Elizabeth, in an interview last month, you said you thought substantial -- substantive health care reform would be enacted.

Do you stand by that?

ELIZABETH EDWARDS, SENIOR FELLOW, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS, AUTHOR, "RESILIENCE": I still do. I'm incredibly optimistic. And I think the American people are still in favor of health care reform, despite the assault they've had of a lot of hyperbole and misstatements. And people know, in their real lives, that -- that they need -- that they're going to need change -- we're going to need change in health care, nationally and in their own communities and in their own families. KING: Tommy, in an interview with Dr. Val Jones, the CEO of Better Health -- that's a medical blog or education network -- in February, you said you can bet your bottom dollar that the health care system that we know today is going to be changed so considerably that I doubt you'd recognize it a year from now.

Do you stand by that?

TOMMY THOMPSON, FORMER SECRETARY HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES: I stand by it because it already has many changes. In the stimulus package, there was a comparative equivalences. There's $20 billion set aside for electronic medical records. There is a lot of other projects that have been already passed that's going to transform health care in the future.

The truth of the matter is and I think the question you're getting at is what about the Barack Obama legislation and what the Democrats are doing in Congress?

I think the Democrats are going to have a very difficult time passing a comprehensive bill unless they want to bring in the Republicans and scale back and have a really comprehensive bipartisan bill. And that's what I'm hoping they will, because I believe that Elizabeth and I both agree that there needs to be comprehensive health care reform in America.

But the kind of comprehensive health care reform is what really is going to be the most important item. And I hope that it's a bipartisan one that I think can be passed energetically and have a great deal of support in the country.

Part 2

Part 3

You can read the rest of the transcript here.

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