GOP Congressman On Obama Comments
MADELEINE BRAND, host:
Republicans in both the House and the Senate have been lining up in opposition to the health care plans. Among them, Congressman Dave Camp of Michigan, the top-ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee. Welcome to the program.
Representative DAVE CAMP (Republican, Michigan): Well, good evening, Madeleine.
BRAND: What for you was the most important moment in the president's news conference tonight?
Rep. CAMP: Well, I think as I listened to the conference, I think the president really missed a chance, because I didn't really hear him address the concerns that were being raised by the 50 Blue Dogs and obviously many Republicans, as well, about the concerns with the proposals that have been put forward. And obviously, some of it is about the cost and what it will do to the deficit.
But other concerns about will seniors really be able to keep the quality health care they've come to know and enjoy? Is there going to be rationing in this new government-run health care plan or this new Comparative Effectiveness Board? Or frankly, will the health care - health choices commissioner, who will be invested with enormous power, be able to actually change what benefits, what providers, what people really are going to receive in terms of their health care?
I think those questions, which the Blue Dogs have raised and have really blocked this moving forward is the same thing many Republicans have raised. And let me just say, I think the comment that doing nothing is going to double health care cost. There is no one proposing doing nothing. Republicans have put forward many ideas.
I wish some of the 38 amendments we offered in Ways and Means Committee had been adopted, they're weren't. But no one is saying we should do nothing. We clearly need to get the cost out of health care.
BRAND: Right. Well, one of the big sticking points is the so-called public plan, the government plan. And are there any conditions under which you might support such a plan?
Rep. CAMP: Well, the real problem with the government plan is that it will draw people away. It will draw people out of their private health plans, which is breaking the main promise the president has made: that if you like your health care, you can keep it.
We've got government studies, we've got private sector studies that say because it isn't really a fair competition. And frankly, in Michigan, our biggest plan is a non-profit insurance company. So this idea that we're going to get the profit out of insurance and therefore make everything better, often these insurance companies are non-profit that are insuring people.
So, I think the government plan is a non-starter. We said from the very beginning there's a bright line and it's the government plan. And so, I think, have many in the Senate.
BRAND: Well, do you agree with the president that our current health care system is broken and big changes need to be made? Or are you more in the line of smaller incremental changes are more necessary?
Rep. CAMP: No, we do need big changes. And for example, the president mentioned often the duplication in cost in the current system. I wish this proposal had something about medical malpractice reform and the defensive medicine that's being practiced. He articulated it, but he never mentioned that that's not in the plan.
I think that more on dealing with fraud, waste and abuse in health care, and obviously the regulatory reform, that would allow people to pull together to really change the sort of monopoly power insurance companies have in their states and allow people to go outside of their state - allow states to pull together. Those kinds of changes, I think, are things that people have really wanted to see.
BRAND: Congressman Dave Camp, thank you very much.
Rep. CAMP: Thanks a lot, Madeleine.
BRAND: That's Congressman Dave Camp of Michigan. He's the top-ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.