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SCHULTZ: And in the Big Finish tonight, health care is back in the
news. For the last seven months, it`s been our life fighting Wendy`s
ovarian cancer. She has been absolutely unbelievably strong. There is no
greater news than to find out that you are cancer free. This has been
quite an experience, especially when the bills have come in the mail.
We were lucky. We had insurance. I asked one medical professional
here in New York what do the poor people do? She just shook her head. I
don`t know what that meant. I don`t know, do they just go home and die?
Do they not get treatment at all?
But having been here at MSNBC for four years and talking a lot about
health care when I first came here, when we were covering the health care
bill, it`s surreal to go through what we, as a family, have gone through.
And I just know that as a country, we can do a much better job.
And leave it to the progressive movement, House Democrats are putting
the public option right back on the table. Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky
and 44 other House Democrats introduced the Public Option Deficit Reduction
Act. The bill would offer the choice of a publicly run health insurance
plan. And get this, it would save 100 billion dollars over the next 10
This bill is a win for everybody. The poorest Americans will have
access to affordable health care, so they won`t go home and die if they get
cancer. And it will reduce the deficit. Obamacare has brought the number
of uninsured Americans to the lowest level since 2008. However, the law
won`t fully be implemented until 2015. And of course, health care costs
are on the rise.
The public option would put pressure on all insurers to lower their
premiums in order to compete, a real competition. It would also provide
immediate relief to small businesses and the federal government and all
parts of the economy.
For example, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates has warned the
rising -- he has warned of rising military health care costs for years.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT GATES, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: Sharply rising health care
costs are consuming an ever-larger share of this department`s budget,
growing from 19 billion in 2001 to 52.5 billion dollars in this request.
END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: That number will choke you. Military health care costs have
gone up 300 percent in the past decade. 2012 was the first year since 1995
military personnel saw an increase in health care premiums. Now, there are
two things Republicans love: the military and reducing the deficit.
Republican should be thrilled with the public option. How can you
make a hundred billion dollar mistake? Who`s doing the math? Will it save
or won`t it save?
Let`s turn to the author of the bill, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky of
Illinois. Congresswoman, thanks for doing this.
REP. JAN SCHAKOWSKY (D), ILLINOIS: Thank you, Ed. And I`m so happy
that Wendy is doing well.
SCHULTZ: Thank you. We have appreciated your phone calls through all
of that. I appreciate it very much. Congresswoman, the math, will it
really save 100 billion dollars?
SCHAKOWSKY: The estimate is that it`s 104 billion over 10 years. It
saves the government money. In terms of the subsidies, in the exchanges,
this would be one option that Americans could choose. The cost would be
five to seven percent less. And it would be an anchor pulling down,
because of competition, the cost of the private sector plans as well.
It is a win-win, as you said, for small businesses, for consumers and
for American taxpayers. It would bring the deficit down. Now, don`t you
think that this would be something that the Republicans would want to
embrace? And, yet it seems as if when it comes to maybe taking a penny
away from private insurance companies, that`s not the kind of deficit
reduction they want.
SCHULTZ: Republicans love deficit reduction. That`s all they want to
talk about right now. Do you think that any of them are going to get on
board here? How can they come out and say, well, these numbers aren`t
SCHAKOWSKY: No, the numbers are right. You know, I am still hopeful.
If they are serious, this is a serious proposal about how to reduce the
deficit. It seems too often that what they want is the prize, the trophy
of actually reducing benefits. And the beauty of a public option is that
it doesn`t do that. It offers the same kind of plan that all the private
insurers would have to offer, but at a reduced cost.
And the other great thing about a public option, which you may
remember, Ed, actually did pass the House of Representatives but never
appeared again in the Senate. It doesn`t disappear. The insurance company
may say, well, we`re not going to cover you anymore. We`re going to drop
our plan. But a public option would always be there at a lower cost. What
a great deal.
SCHULTZ: Well, I think the public would be behind it. There hasn`t
been any recent polling on this at all. But if it`s going to do what they
say it`s going to do, I don`t know how they would not get behind it. I
find it very interesting that during the campaign and during the primary
season, all the Republicans talked about was repealing Obamacare. Yet I
see that Michele Bachmann can`t even get support or any sponsors of her
bill to repeal Obamacare. Do you have a comment on that?
SCHAKOWSKY: Isn`t that interesting? Fewer and fewer people, it
seems, by the week, by the month, are interested in repealing Obamacare,
because as it rolls out, more and more people are actually gaining the
benefits. But even when we first introduced a public option, a number of
years ago, it had overwhelming public support. And we polled in the Blue
Dog districts, the more conservative districts. And a vast majority of
Americans want a public option.
SCHULTZ: That is the bottom line. Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky,
thanks for joining us tonight. That is THE ED SHOW. I`m Ed Schultz. "THE
RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
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