Go, go Bernie! The one honest man in the Senate takes on Orrin Hatch over health care reform on Lou Dobbs Tonight. Bernie does a great job of shooting down Hatch's fear mongering and distortions.
DOBBS: And turning now to the battle over health care. The Obama administration pushing Congress to pass a bill on health care before the end of this year. But opposition to the president's at least trillion-dollar plan is rising. Many senators including some Democrats are pushing back and pushing back hard.
That is the topic of tonight's "Face-Off Debate". Joining me now, two distinguished senators, Senator Orrin Hatch, Republican of Utah. Senator, good to have you with us.
And Senator Bernie Sanders, independent from Vermont. Bernie, good to have you with us. We appreciate it, Senator.
SANDERS: Good to be with you.
DOBBS: Let me turn first to the fact that a bipartisan group in the Senate apparently closing on a compromise which we have not heard until just now. Is it to your sense, Senator Sanders, that that is the case?
SANDERS: I really don't know. That's in the finance committee. I think Senator Hatch may know more than I do.
DOBBS: All right. Senator Hatch?
HATCH: Well, I don't know. I'd be surprised if they can put together a program that could be supported by Republicans because they're pushing for, you know, more taxes, more government, and more spending. I don't see how you solve the problem of $2.5 trillion current bill by adding another $1.5 to $2.5 trillion more. But I know they've had a very difficult time because of that government planned approach.
SANDERS: Well, I'm not quite sure where Senator Hatch is coming up with those numbers. What I do know is it concerns me less whether we do it today or tomorrow or a year from now. What's most important is that we do it right.
And, Lou, we have a major crisis in this country. And it's not only that tens of millions of people are uninsured or underinsured. We've got over 18,000 people every year die, they die because they don't get to a doctor when they should. We've got a million people this year who are going to go bankrupt because of the very, very high cost of health care.
So I think doing nothing is not an option. But my main point is we've got to get it right. That's much more important whether it's done tomorrow, next week, or four months from now.
DOBBS: Senator Hatch, your reaction to that?
HATCH: Well, I think we do have to get it right, but I don't think getting it right is expanding the federal government. They want us now to set up a board of five people or a panel of five people, nameless, faceless bureaucrats to determine how to ration health care because that's the only way they're going to save money the way they're going.
Otherwise, we're moving right straight to a -- everything the Democrats are asking for, at least the liberal Democrats are asking for, would lead us to a single payer system or in other words socialized medicine.
Well, first of all, a single payer system is not socialized medicine. Medicare is a single payer system. And I would argue that most Americans feel a lot better about Medicare than they do about private health insurance companies who throw them off of health care if they have a preexisting condition or if they got sick the preceding year, whose CEOs have enormous salaries and compensation packages, whose administrative cost -- you know, Lou, we have got to ask ourselves why in the United States we are spending almost twice as much as any other major country on earth and our outcomes in most cases are not as good.
HATCH: Part of it is...
SANDERS: And the price...
HATCH: Part of it is because of government run. The Medicare system is $39 trillion in unfunded debt. We're going to turn the rest of our health care system over to the federal government. Not on my watch you're not going to.
SANDERS: Now that's just not accurate. I think what anyone will tell you...
HATCH: Sure, it's accurate.
SANDERS: No, it's not accurate. Medicare -- you know, if you're looking at the average person, their health insurance costs have doubled in recent years. What we're looking at is 1300 private health insurance companies who have thousands of plans in the last few years, the last couple of decades, what we have seen for every new doctor that's come onboard.
We need doctors. We have 25 health care bureaucrats and people all over this country know how hard it is to get the health insurance companies to pay them what they're supposed to be paying.
HATCH: And the worst health care bureaucrats we have are the government health care bureaucrats...
SANDERS: I don't think so.
HATCH: ... who are running this system into the ground. And to be honest with you, anybody who believes that the federal government is going to do better than the private health insurance competitive system is wrong.
Now let me just make one other point. We have 300 million people in this country. They claim 47 million are not covered by health insurance. Now let's just be honest about it. An awful lot of those people are people who could afford it but won't get it. Some qualify for the chip bill or some qualify for Medicaid right now.
Now what they want to do is move into a Medicaid expansion where they move more and more people into Medicaid when we're having a rough time paying for it now, and doctors don't even want to take Medicaid patients because of the way the federal government is handling it.
HATCH: Look, Bernie, I -- have a lot of respect for you, but come on. You know the doggone federal government is half the problem here.
SANDERS: Well, look, is that right? Well, then you go back and you tell veterans of this country that we should disband the Veteran's Administration, which is 100 percent government run. Is that your suggestion?
HATCH: Well, I'm not telling them that. I...
SANDERS: Wait a minute. That's a government run program. Do you want to expand Medicare?
HATCH: There are things government can do.
HATCH: I don't think they're doing it as well as they should do, but to throw over the whole private sector approach that is competitive...
HATCH: To throw it over so we can have a bunch of bureaucrats, nameless, faceless bureaucrats...
SANDERS: But nobody is talking about...
HATCH: ... get in between your doctor and you, it just isn't right.
SANDERS: First of all, nobody is talking about that. What people are talking about is...
HATCH: Well, I'm talking about it.
SANDERS: Well, we're talking -- nobody is talking about a government-run health care system. We're talking about...
HATCH: Well, sure they are.
SANDERS: No, they're not. They're talking about a public...
HATCH: What do you call the public plan? What do you call that?
SANDERS: A public option -- a public option that will compete and give people the choice of whether they want a public plan or a private plan. Why are you afraid of that? If the private plans are so much better, people will go into the private plans. If the public plans are more cost effective, more reasonable, people prefer a Medicare type program, they'll go into that. Why are you afraid of the competition?
HATCH: Not afraid at all.
HATCH: It's just we know that -- we know that there would be unfair competition because...
SANDERS: No, we don't.
HATCH: ... the federal government has unlimited funds...
HATCH: ... to be able to carry on whatever it wants to carry on.
HATCH: And it wouldn't take long. Companies have to pay taxes. They have to meet certain state and federal standards.
SANDERS: Well, first of all...
HATCH: They get all kinds of other things they have to do.
SANDERS: But that's not...
HATCH: They can do it better than the government.
SANDERS: This is a level playing field that I think it's interesting that...
HATCH: No, it isn't.
SANDERS: The health insurance people who are spending a million dollars a day, lobbying Congress, putting huge amounts of money into campaign contributions are afraid of that competition. I think that the American people are sick and tired of the private health insurance companies who have been ripping them off for years and they want to see some competition.
HATCH: Well, Bernie, why don't you and I work on solving some of the private health insurance problems? I admit there are some that exist, but they don't exist nearly as much as the federal government problems. And federal government control would just run this whole system right into...
DOBBS: We're going to have to leave it. Awaiting the outcome of the Sanders/Hatch resolution. And we appreciate you both being with us.
SANDERS: Thank you.
DOBBS: Senator Orrin Hatch and Senator Bernie Sanders.
HATCH: Nice to be with you, Lou.
DOBBS: Thank you, gentlemen.