March 28, 2010

Jake Tapper on This Week interviews Haley Barbour and Ed Rendell about how the health care law will affect their respective states:

TAPPER: Governor Barbour, I don't want to pick on Mississippi, but I should point out that studies indicate Mississippi is last in the nation when it comes to health care, when it comes to access, quality, costs and outcomes.

Your state ranks worst in the country for obesity, hypertension, diabetes, adult physical inactivity, low weight birth babies. It has one of the highest rates of infant mortality.

You've been governor for six years. I'm wondering, what's your response to critics who say that this is probably -- this lawsuit is probably not the best use of your time when it comes to health care for your citizens?

BARBOUR: Well, the fact, my state has about the same percentage of people who are covered by health insurance as the nation as a whole, so the issues that you talked about are not the result of lack of health insurance. In fact, Ed mentioned some very important good things. That is, allowing children to stay on their parents' insurance until they are 26.

BlueCross/BlueShield, which writes most of the health insurance in my state, already does that. They are now -- two years ago, they were not going to disqualify people from buying the health insurance because of preexisting illnesses. They already do that. We already have a high-cost or high-risk insurance pool in our state. So the problem here is some people think nothing matters unless the federal government requires it by law.

Now, a lot of states, like my state, have made real progress here. Our friends at Utah in two years have more than 40,000 people on the health insurance exchange. The president wants us and demands in this policy -- in this law, that we all have health insurance exchanges. We were in the process of putting one together in Mississippi, except now we won't be able to do it like Utah. We're going to have to do it more like Massachusetts, because the federal government says you not only have to have one, you've got to do it the federal government's way. We don't believe that's right for every state.

TAPPER: Governor Rendell, you saw the numbers that I cited to Valerie Jarrett, 50 percent of the American people oppose this bill; 46 percent support it, in today's Washington Post. The latest Franklin and Marshall poll from your state says that Pennsylvanians view President Obama, more of them, unfavorably than favorably for the first time. No offense, you're not doing much better. Democrats in the Keystone State have a tough road ahead of them. Doesn't this bill hurt their chances in November?

RENDELL: No, I think as the months roll by, it will actually help our chances. As more and more people get to understand what's in this bill, people are going to like it. As someone who's got a 25-year-old daughter at home who can't get health coverage understands that they can right now, they're going to like the bill. When someone has a child who gets ill in September and all of a sudden the insurance company can't deny them coverage, they're going to like the bill. Small businesses, businesses under 25 employees, they can file for tax credits that will help them substantially now. They're going to like the bill. So as all of these benefits roll out, Jake, it's going to change public perception of the bill and of the president himself.

And look, no one is kidding themselves. It's a tough year for incumbents, whether it's the president of the United States, it's the governor, it's mayors. It's a tough year for incumbents. When the economy is bad, it's always the case. But this bill is going to be like Social Security and Medicare, that were demonized, demonized when they were passed, but later went on to be a godsend to American seniors. And I think that you will find that that's what this will happen as we roll out.

And I think losses in November are going to be a lot less than most of the prognosticators are foretelling.

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