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CBS "Face The Nation" - Transcript


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BOB SCHIEFFER: And we're back now with Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman
Schultz, who is in Tuscan this morning, and Karen Ignagni, who is the president of the industry
group that represents the health insurance companies. Thank you for joining us.
KAREN IGNAGNI (America's Health Insurance Plans): Thank you.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me just play for you something that President Obama said last week,
and this pretty much sets the stage for everything we want to talk about.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA (March 8): Every year, insurance companies deny more people
coverage because they've got pre-existing conditions. Every year, they drop more people's
coverage when they get sick right when they need it most. Every year, they raise premiums
higher and higher and higher.
BOB SCHIEFFER: So there you have it. How does the insurance industry react to that, Miss
KAREN IGNAGNI: Well, I think there are two points, Bob, and thank you for the opportunity.
One, we believe that now is the time for health reform. There's no question about that. No
debate. Our community worked very hard over a period of three years, as we went into 2009, to
contribute to this discussion. We offered the insurance market reforms that the President is
correctly talking about it-- at-- about in that clip and elsewhere. We believe in those reforms. We
also believe that there are things that need to be done to make sure that they work and that
they're affordable for the American people. So we helped get the ball down the field. We're
proud of that. We've contributed to this discussion. This is not a situation where we're saying no
to health reform. But we're saying that if it's not affordable, then we're not going to com-- that
we're not going to fulfill those objectives that everybody wants to see fulfilled.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz, what would you respond to what Miss
Ignagni says?
REPRESENTATIVE DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, actions speak louder than words.
I mean, there's-- there's really nothing else that can be said. You know, unfortunately, the
American people can-- can pretty clearly see that the insurance industry, led by AHIP, has
refused to take yes for an answer. We have the elements of reform that they have called for in
our legislation-- we don't have the elements of reform that they have opposed, and yet they still
refuse to support our legislation. And what's even more disappointing and, you know, I actually
took Karen at her word a year ago and was thrilled to hear that she was supporting reforms that
we've fought for years yet the insurance industry opposed. And now instead of helping to
champion those reforms, they-- the insurance industry led by AHIP is carpet bombing dozens of
my colleagues with ads, distorting their record, lying about what the bill does, and at the end of
the day--
KAREN IGNAGNI (overlapping): Bob, I'm sorry. I don't have the audio in my right ear so--
REPRESENTATIVE DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: --it's really-- dif-- difficult-- it's-- it's
really difficult to-- to see the difference between the action versus the-- ver-- versus their words.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, I'm-- I'm--
BOB SCHIEFFER: --very sorry and let me--
BOB SCHIEFFER: -- apologize here. Miss Ignagni is unable to hear what you're saying,
Congresswoman, and I'll try to-- I'll try to repeat something of what she said.
(Karen Ignagni laughing)
BOB SCHIEFFER: She said the industry--
KAREN IGNAGNI (overlapping): Okay.
BOB SCHIEFFER: --is just lying. She says that you haven't come through on your word. You
haven't said what-- that you said you were going to do. And-- and-- and that basically is the
bottom line of what she says here.
KAREN IGNAGNI: I'm sorry I didn't hear the audio and-- but the point of the matter is the
following, Bob. Since July, there's been a vilification campaign aimed at our industry and the
working men and women, who work in the industry, who work very hard every day to fulfill their
promise to their policyholders and their employers and their consumers and patients. What
we're concerned about here is that there's been an effort through that villainization campaign to
distract away from the underlying point we've been making, simply because a group says that
something won't work. You don't-- you shouldn't be labeled anti-reform because of that. Your
obligation, however, is to set out what will work.
We have to get everybody in. We have to set a goal so the health care cost will be brought
under control because what we've seen over the last couple of weeks is that, in fact, we're
seeing a-- a situation where people are focusing on premium increases that are being driven by
underlying costs. And people in Congress don't want to confront the underlying costs because
it's hard politically to do so. You have to take on a number of other stakeholders to do so. But
focusing on four percent of health care expenditures which is what we--
KAREN IGNAGNI: --represent to basically fund a trillion dollar like piece of legislation, we are
kidding ourselves in terms of whether or not that will work. It won't but we can actually make
health care a promise that becomes a reality of the American people if we focus on the
underlying cost issue.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Congresswoman--
REPRESENTATIVE DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: --thank you. Our legislation-- our
legislation covers thirty-one million uninsured Americans. We'll finally bring costs down and
provide security and stability to those that don't have health insurance. You have the top five--
what Karen is saying is-- is a little bit disingenuous. You have the top five health insurance
companies in America who on average have raised premiums fifty-six percent-- have fifty-- have
fifty-six percent increase in their profits while dropping 2.7 million in-- people covered by their
insurance plans.
What we have got to make sure that we cover everyone which we do that we provide security
and stability particularly to the small businesses like the one in my district, where I was standing
on the security line at the airport last-- last week and a small business owner stopped me and
said that last-- last year, his insurance company raised his premiums for his employees by a
hundred and seventy-two percent simply because he had one sick employee.
Our bill will change that to bring costs down and make sure that those-- that they're
manageable. The insurance industry, essentially, wants to maintain the status quo. The status
quo for them is record profits continuing to drop people and denying them coverage.
KAREN IGNAGNI (overlapping): Bob, let me--
REPRESENTATIVE DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: The status quo for Americans without
health insurance reform is skyrocketing profits, shaky-- on-- on top of a shaky economy, a risk of
losing their job and employers having to choose between letting peop-- letting-- letting people go
or continuing--
BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): All right.
BOB SCHIEFFER: --let's break right there--
REPRESENTATIVE DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: --and that's not the right choice.
BOB SCHIEFFER: --let's break and let Miss Ignagni answer.
KAREN IGNAGNI: Bob, this is--
KAREN IGNAGNI: --clearly the talking point of the last several weeks, and I want to have an
opportunity to talk about--
It's not a talking point.
KAREN IGNAGNI: --profits. Our average profits are 3.3 percent. We see a-- other actors in the
health care stakeholder community at fifteen to twenty and sometimes above. If we want to talk
about profits, we're looking in the wrong place. It is part of an effort to change the--
REPRESENTATIVE DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (overlapping): We want to talk about
coverage, Karen.
KAREN IGNAGNI: --subject from underlying health care costs. Our bel-- our members believe
strongly that we need health reform.
BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): Well, let me ask you--
KAREN IGNAGNI: We work very hard to contribute to this discussion.
BOB SCHIEFFER: --why are premiums going up?
KAREN IGNAGNI: I-- I'm glad you asked this. This problem of soaring premiums encapsulates
what we've been saying. Soaring premiums are being driven by two factors right now, if we're
talking about the individual market. Underlying health care costs in 2009, according to the
government data, health care prices are soaring, number one. Number two, in the individual
market where people make a decision whether they're going to be participating or not, a bad
economy has led people to drop coverage, pushing up the costs for everyone else.
BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. And I'm terribly sorry that--
BOB SCHIEFFER: --has to be the last word.
REPRESENTATIVE DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (overlapping): --Bob, but the truth is
we're getting--
BOB SCHIEFFER: We're-- I'm sorry, Congresswoman.
REPRESENTATIVE DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (overlapping): --health inflation rises to
double digits.
BOB SCHIEFFER: We're going to commercial now. We're out of time. Sorry.


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