GOP Candidates Urge ‘Market Forces’ For Health Care, Complain About Format

In last night’s CNBC debate, moderator Maria Bartiromo asked the eight candidates – Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, Jon Huntsman and Rick Santorum – to describe, “in  30 seconds, if you repeal Obamacare, what’s the answer?” They all urged more power to the states, medical savings accounts and some discussed malpractice reform.

Here is a complete transcript of the health care portion of the debate, (courtesy CNBC):

MARIO BARTIROMO: Let’s stay on regulation for a moment. You have all said that you will repeal President Obama’s health care legislation.

Down the line, 30 seconds, if you repeal Obamacare, what’s the answer?

Jon Huntsman?

JON HUNTSMAN, former Utah governor: I would say — and I would meet with the 50 governors of this country, and I would say, I did health care reform in my state, it took us three years to get it done. We delivered an insurance connector that was not a costly mandate.

You can sit down with the 50 governors and you can address cost containment. This is a $3 trillion industry, half of which any expert will tell you is totally nonsense and superfluous spending.

How do you get costs out of the system? How do you empower patients to better understand what they are getting when they go into the doctor’s office?

Number two, we need to do a better job in harmonizing medical records so that we can pull up on a consistent basis the most efficacious course of treatment for patients.

HUNTSMAN: And third, we need to close the gap on the uninsured without a costly mandate, letting the free market work and bringing people together with truly affordable insurance.

BARTIROMO: That’s time. We want to get each of your comments on what the plan is. Ron Paul?

REP. RON PAUL, R-Texas: We need to get the government out of the business, and we do need to have the right to opt out of “Obama-care.” But we ought to have the right to opt out of everything. And the answer to it is turn it back over to the patient and the doctor relationship with medical savings accounts.

So I would say that we have had too much government. I have been in medicine, it has gone downhill. Quality has gone down. Prices have skyrocketed because of the inflation. So you need to get a market force in there, a medical savings account.

But this mess has been created — it’s a bipartisan mess. So it has been there for a while. So what we need is the doctor-patient relationship and medical savings account where you can deduct it from your taxes and get a major medical policy. Prices then would come down.

BARTIROMO: Thirty seconds, Governor Perry?

GOV. RICK PERRY, Texas: Obviously on the Medicare side, you have to have an insurance type of a program where people have options of which — give them a menu of options of which they can choose from. I think you have to have the doctors and the hospitals and the other health care providers being given incentives on health care rather than “sick care.”

And then on Medicaid, it is really pretty simple, just like Jon and Mitt both know, you send it back to the states and let the states figure out how to make Medicaid work, because I will guarantee you we will do it safely, we will do it appropriately, and we will save a ton of money.

(APPLAUSE)

BARTIROMO: Mr. Cain.

HERMAN CAIN: The legislation has already been written. H.R. 3000. In the previous Congress it was H.R. 3400. And what that does — it has already been written. We didn’t hear about it in the previous Congress because “Princess Nancy” sent to it committee and it stayed there. It never came out.

(LAUGHTER)

CAIN: H.R. 3000 allows the decisions to be with the doctors and the patients, not with the bureaucrat in Washington, D.C. The legislation has already been written.

(APPLAUSE)

BARTIROMO: Governor Romney?

MITT ROMNEY, former Mass. governor: Health care in 30 seconds is a little tough. But let me try. Number one, you return to the states the responsibility for caring for their own uninsured. And you send the Medicaid money back to the states so they can craft their own programs. That’s number one.

Number two, you let individuals purchase their own insurance. Not just getting it through their company. But buy it on their own if they want to, and no longer discriminate against individuals who want to buy their insurance.

Number three, you do exactly what Ron Paul said. I don’t always say that. But I have got to say it right now.

(LAUGHTER)

ROMNEY: And that is, you have to get health care to start working more like a market. And for that to happen, people have to have a stake in what the cost and the quality as well as of their health care. And so health savings account, or something called co- insurance, that’s the way to help make that happen.

And finally, our malpractice system in this country is nuts. We have got to take that over and make sure we don’t burden our system with it.

(APPLAUSE)

BARTIROMO: Mr. Speaker?

NEWT GINGRICH, former Speaker of the House of Representatives: Well, I just want point out, my colleagues have done a terrific job of answering an absurd question. To say in 30 seconds…

BARTIROMO: You have said you want to repeal “Obama-care,” correct?

GINGRICH: I did. Let me finish, if I may. To say in 30 seconds what you would do with 18 percent of the economy, life and death for the American people, a topic I’ve worked on since 1974, about which I wrote about called “Saving Lives and Saving Money” in 2002, and for which I founded the Center for Health Transformation, is the perfect case of why I’m going to challenge the president to seven Lincoln- Douglas style three-hour debates with a timekeeper and no moderator, at least two of which ought to be on health care so you can have a serious discussion over a several-hour period that affects the lives of every person in this country.

BARTIROMO: Would you would like to try to explain…

(APPLAUSE)

BARTIROMO: Would you like to — would you like to try to explain in simple speak to the American people what you would do after you repeal the president’s health care legislation?

GINGRICH: In 30 seconds?

BARTIROMO: Take the time you need, sir. Take the time you need.

GINGRICH: I can’t take what I need. These guys will gang up on me…

(CROSSTALK)

BARTIROMO: Do you want the answer the question tonight on health care or no?

(CROSSTALK)

BARTIROMO: Do you want to try to answer the question tonight, Speaker?

GINGRICH: Let me just say it very straight. One, you go back to a doctor-patient relationship and you involve the family in those periods where the patient by themselves can’t make key decisions. But you re-localize it.

Two, as several people said, including Governor Perry, you put Medicaid back at the state level and allow the states to really experiment because it’s clear we don’t know what we are doing nationally.

Three, you focus very intensely on a brand-new program on brain science because the fact is the largest single out-year set of costs we are faced with are Alzheimer’s, autism, Parkinson’s, mental health, and things which come directly from the brain.

GINGRICH: And I am for fixing our health rather than fixing our health bureaucracy because the iron lung is the perfect model of saving people so you don’t need to pay for federal program of iron lung centers because the polio vaccine eliminated the problem. That’s a very short (inaudible).

(APPLAUSE)

BARTIROMO: Congresswoman.

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN, R-Minn.: The main problem with health care in the United States today is the issue of cost. It’s just too expensive. And President Obama said that’s what he would solve in Obamacare, we’d all save $2,500 a year in our premiums.

Well, we have Obamacare, but we didn’t have the savings. So what I would do to replace it is to allow every American to buy any health insurance policy they want anywhere in the United States, without any federal minimum mandate. Today there’s an insurance monopoly in every state in the country. I would end that monopoly and let any American go anywhere they want. That’s the free market.

Number two, I would allow every American to pay for that insurance policy — their deductible, their co-pay, their pharmaceuticals, whatever it is that’s medical-related — with their own tax-free money.

And then, finally, I’d have true medical malpractice liability reform. If you do that, it’s very simple. People own their own insurance policies, and you drive the costs down, because what we have to get rid of is government bureaucracy in health care. That’s all we bought in Obamacare, was a huge bureaucracy. That has to go away.

(APPLAUSE)

BARTIROMO: Senator?

RICK SANTORUM, former Penn. senator: This is, I think, the difference between me and a lot of the candidates here. I heard a lot of responses, but I haven’t — I haven’t seen a lot of consistency in some of — some of those responses on the last few questions.

When it comes to health care, back in 1992, I introduced the first health savings account bill that everybody up here said was the basis for consumer-driven health care. I was leading on that before anyone else was even talking about it. Secondly, I was someone who proposed a block grant for Medicaid way back in 1998 with Phil Gramm, again, leading on this issue. Same thing, reforming the Medicare program back in the 1990s, again, I led on these issues.

I was always for having the government out of the health care business and for a bottom-up, consumer-driven health care, which is different than Governor Romney and some of the other people on this panel.

Number two — and I didn’t get a chance to answer any of the housing questions. I was on the banking housing committee in — in the United States Senate. I was one of 24 people who wrote a letter to Harry Reid saying, please let us bring up this housing legislation, which I voted for in the committee, that would have put curbs on Fannie and Freddie. I — I was out there before this bubble burst saying this was a problem. I — I was in Scranton, Pennsylvania, the other day, and I had one of a — a home-builder, who was a head of the association, came up to me and said, Rick, I’m here to apologize. We came here to push you so you would oppose, you know, putting caps on Fannie and Freddie. You were right; we were wrong.

Time and time again, Wall Street, the Wall Street bailout, five of the eight people on this panel supported the Wall Street bailout. I didn’t. I know that we saw problems best from the bottom up, not the top down and government intervention in the marketplace.

BARTIROMO: Governor Romney, you have 30 seconds to respond.

ROMNEY: That’s — that’s fine. I believe very deeply in the functioning of markets. The work I’ve done in health care, actually worked as a consultant to the health care industry, to hospitals and various health institutions. I had the occasion of actually acquiring and trying to build health care businesses. I know something about it, and I believe markets work.

And what’s wrong with our health care system in America is that government is playing too heavy a role. We need to get our markets to work by having the consumer, the patient have a stake in what the cost and quality is of health care, give them the transparency they need to know where the opportunities are for lower cost and better quality, to make sure that the providers offer them the broadest array of options that they could have.

And once we have that happening, you’ll see us — 18 percent of our GDP is spent on health care. The next highest nation in the world is 12 percent. It’s a huge difference. We have to get the market…

BARTIROMO: Time.

ROMNEY: … to work to make sure that we get the kind of quality and value that America deserves.

HARWOOD: But, Governor, let me ask you about health care, because Congressman Paul said, put it back to the doctor and the patient. You said a few moments ago that you thought states should have the responsibility for insuring the uninsured. And, of course, in Massachusetts, you enacted an individual mandate and subsidies to have people who didn’t have insurance get it. So you think there’s a pretty large role for government in this area.

ROMNEY: Well, I think that people — that people have a responsibility to receive their own care, and the doctor-patient relationship is, of course, where that — where that exists — where that exists.

HARWOOD: But the government has the responsibility to force them?

ROMNEY: I — I didn’t know whether Ron Paul was saying we’re going to — he’s going to get rid of Medicaid. I would not get rid of Medicaid. It’s a health program for the poor.

What I said was I would take the Medicaid dollars that are currently spent by the federal government, return them to the states so that states can craft their own programs to care for their own poor, rather than having the federal government mandate a one-size- fits-all plan in the entire — entire nation. Obamacare is wrong. I’ll repeal it. I’ll get it done.

(APPLAUSE)

(UNKNOWN): John?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNBC: Congressman?

PAUL: My plan of cutting the budget by a trillion dollars does deal with Medicaid. And that is that it preserves it, and there is a transition period, with the goal that eventually we would hope to move that back into the economy. But right now, it would be too much to do it in one year.

You know, finding a trillion dollars was a job and a half, and getting rid of five departments.

So, yes, my budget takes into consideration health care for the elderly, health care on Medicaid, as well as child health care. At the same time, we deal with the bailouts, the banks, and all the benefits that they get from the financial system, because what we’re facing today is the crisis in this housing crisis.

————————————————–

HARWOOD: Governor Romney, you’ve shown that you can work with Democrats. When you were governor, of course, you collaborated with Ted Kennedy on the health care plan that you enacted. You raised fees to balance the budget, and you used that as an argument to get the credit rating of your state upgraded. Independent voters might like that. Should Republican primary voters be nervous about it?

ROMNEY: Thanks for reminding everybody.

(LAUGHTER)

You know, what I found is, in a state like mine where there are a few Democrats in the legislature — 85 percent of my legislature was Democrat — to get anything done — I was always in an away game, if you will. And to get something done, I had to see if there were Democrats who cared more about the state than they cared about their re-election or their party, and there were.