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CNN "CNN Newsroom" - Transcript


Location: Washington, DC

CNN "CNN Newsroom" - Transcript


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R) SENATE MINORITY LEADER: The subject du jour, and it seems virtually every day it's health care, and it certainly should be the subject.

I continue to hear suggestions that members of the Republican conference and the Senate are not for health care. I can't find a single member who is not for trying to improve America's health care system.

Most all of us agree with the American people who overwhelmingly say in polls that they like the quality but they are concerned about the cost and the access, and, of course, cost and access are related issues.

The administration does continue to mention these unnamed people who seem not to want to make progress on this. And I have been unable to find anyone, not a single, solitary soul, as I indicated, of the Republican conference in the Senate is in favor of no action.

What we do think is that we ought to target the problems. And there are ways to do that that could be achieved, I think, on a large, bipartisan basis.

For example, why should we, any longer tolerate junk lawsuits against doctors and hospitals?

Example, why would we not want to incentive plans like the Safeway plan that demonstrates you can cap the cost of health care by incentivizing your employees by going after the preventable causes of health care problems in this country, smoking, obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, lack of exercise.

They have demonstrated that by incentivizing their employees to change their behavior, they can have an impact.

We know that one of the reasons we have such a large number of uninsured is because if you are an individual purchasing health care, it is not deductible on your tax return. If your company is providing it for you, it's deductible on the corporate tax return. Why would we not want to equalize the tax treatment for individuals and corporations?

These are the kinds of things that would have a positive impact on improving the cost issue and access. I noticed that the CBO director was sort of called down to the White House yesterday.

It strikes me as somewhat akin to the owner of the team asking the umpires to come up to the owner's box. I mean, if the CBO is to have credibility, they are the umpire. They are not players in this game.

And I don't think we ought to be tampering with an organization that is arguably controlled by the majority here in Congress but nevertheless tries to function as an independent arbiter and estimator of the cost of what we do.

So we look forward to being able to move a health care proposal this year on a truly bipartisan basis and one that doesn't increase the deficit, one that doesn't put the government in charge of our health care, one that doesn't produce a system that in the end delays care in many instances and denies care, and, of course, in order to do that, would be rationing care.

I don't think the American people want any of that, nor should we be trying to pass it.



MCCONNELL: Well, as I said earlier, I'm not aware of a single member of our conference, not one, who is not in favor of doing health care reform in a very positive way and for one plan or another. There are plans that are around.

So, you know, we want to do the right thing here. This is not about the president. I think there are some who think everything is about the president. This is about the country and about a huge issue that affects all of our lives and our health and is 16 percent of our economy.

In a country of 300 million people, obviously, their representatives may have some different points of view about the best way to fix the problem.

But this is not about any individual. This is about the issue and taking the time to get it right, as Leader Boehner indicated. We had an experience with rushing a major bill earlier this year. They said we had to get the stimulus through yesterday.

With interest, that's going to be about $1 trillion. We are spending $100 million a day in interest on it. And it was sold to those who enthusiastically embraced it as a way to keep unemployment from going above 8 percent. Now, it's headed to 10 percent, and in Kentucky, it's 10.9 percent.

We don't need a do-over of that kind of procedure. This is too important to be rushed. We need to take our time and do it right.


MCCONNELL: I hate to repeat what I just said, but this is about getting a policy right. This is about getting the policy right. We don't wish anyone ill. We want to get the policy right.


MCCONNELL: Yes, we have plenty of discussions. But, in the end, the question will be how bipartisan is the product. I mean, we've had plenty of interaction with the president. I like him. He's a good man. But the test of whether or not this is a bipartisan product will be the product itself.


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