HH: Congressman Tim Murphy represents Pittsburgh Steeler land here on the Hugh Hewitt Show, and I am so desperate that I’m inviting him anyway. But we’ve got to pay attention to Kathleen Sebelius tomorrow, so even Steelers fans are welcome on the Hugh Hewitt Show. Congressman, welcome back.
TM: Hi, it’s great to be with you.
HH: Now tomorrow, Kathleen Sebelius is in front of you. Peggy Noonan has written a column on questions for her. Have you had a chance to read that, yet, Congressman?
HH: I’d encourage you to, because she writes do not be defeated by Sebelius’ media coaches. Do not let the Secretary’s slightly dazed unflappability get under your skin. And she goes on to write how she’s just going to try and filibuster. Are you prepared for that?
TM: Well, we expect that, and we’ve seen that desultory, slow way of responding to members’ questions. And we will be respectful. Certainly, she is the secretary of Health and Human Services, and deserves that respect. But on behalf and for the sake of the American people, however, we also have to continue to push to get the answers, because they are deeply concerned about what is happening here not just with the rollout, but with the cost of the access, cancellation of the policies. This list is far bigger than they expected, and it’s not looking good.
HH: Now today, the head of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services effectively refused to answer how many people have enrolled. And she simply would not answer it. I don’t know if you watched. That was not your committee. That was Ways and Means. Were you watching that, Congressman?
TM: No, but I heard about that. But we saw the same thing last week in Energy and Commerce, where all these folks who built the website said they didn’t know, either. Look, I simply don’t believe that, because if you look at anyone who designed the website, part of what you put on there is a counter to see how many people get on different pages. With five hundred million lines of data, you’d think they’d build in a system to see does this work. Now last week, CGI and other companies said gee, we did our part, it’s not up to us to figure out about what’s going on here, the whole thing. But what appears here is that there were a number of problems that they saw coming. And I think what they’re not saying about those 700,000 people is that the vast majority of them are Medicaid. They’re not signing up for Obamacare. They’re signing up for Medicaid. And so by saying we really won’t know until November, I just am not buying that.
HH: Now Congressman Murphy, I’ve been grilling people for 25 years on the air, and so I’ve got a couple of, are you open to suggestions on how to approach Kathleen Sebelius?
TM: Say that again?
HH: Are you open to suggested questions?
TM: Oh, sure. Sure.
HH: Here’s how I’d go. I’d ask her how many Americans will not have been able to keep their insurance on January 1, 2014. And she’s going to say she doesn’t know. And then I would ask her is it at least a thousand. And then ten thousand.
HH: And I would walk her through, because that’s the essential promise that’s been broken. And she’ll never give you a number, but she won’t be able to answer. And it will prove, I mean, millions of Americans are not going to have insurance on January 1. Isn’t that right?
TM: That is right, and here’s something else. I remember when we were doing the workups on this, the markups on this bill when it first came through. And the Democrats wouldn’t let us have any amendments and then they stripped them out. Some of the questions that came by were that they said the Congressional Budget Office only really expected nine or ten million people to lose their insurance from their employer. They never looked at the issue of how many people would lose their plans, that the plans would be cancelled, how many people would lose insurance because their spouse, and the business would only cover the prime employee but not the spouse and not their children. They didn’t even anticipate this. And what is happening here, it just doesn’t get better. They’re being hit by surprise after surprise after surprise, because they don’t know. However, the Obama administration was given a warning that this site wasn’t ready to go live. The people told them, and they decided to do it anyway. So what happens is that I think the bottom line here is eventually, will they fix the website? Yes. Will they steer clear of these things? Sure. What they can’t fix is the cost, the number of people who are losing insurance, the people who are finding they are going to have massive deductibles and co-pays. I mean, I’ve heard of a couple whose deductible is going from $1,000 to $10,000 dollars.
TM: And we can’t afford this sort of thing. And this, and then come January, they’re also going to find out okay, now I’m paying much more, and now I can’t even see the doctor I want.
HH: Well, here’s actually, Congressman, I think the most urgent problem of many problems is that middle class people with insurance today are not going to have it on January 1. They will not have been able to replace it, because the exchanges are broken, they don’t know how to go to someone like Wellspring, a sponsor of this show, or someone else. They just will be naked. And then they’re going to get sick. And even though they’ll be covered under the preexisting condition, the bar on barring people with it, in those weeks that they’re sick, or they get hit by a car, they’re going to be bankrupt. That’s the reality, that millions of people are going to be exposed to ruinous, catastrophic health care costs, because of Obamacare.
TM: It is, you’re correct. People are going to see terrible things happen to their own nest egg being eaten up by this, despite being promised, even long after the White House knew it wasn’t going to be true that you could keep your health care plan, you could continue to see your doctor, it would cost an average of $2,500 dollars less. There was lots of warning signs they choose to ignore. But here’s what it comes down to. If their push eventually is single payer health plan, maybe now the American public through this terrible tragedy where they’re losing their health insurance will understand that yeah, they can blame the technology people for part of it, but these were decisions made by people within government and less to do with health care. And they’re embedded in the bill itself. So the technical glitches, yeah, those will be fixed. But the actual underlying bill? That can only be fixed with a complete overhaul, and getting people in access to insurance where they really have a competitive marketplace. That is the most compassionate thing they could be doing. And I’ll tell you, it is tragic to hear these stories from family after family. They’re scared now. They’re scared because they’re losing their insurance, they can’t afford the new insurance, and they don’t know what to do.
HH: Are any of your colleagues across the aisle, I mean, the cameras are off, and all the shutdown posturing’s done. Has anyone come up to you from Pennsylvania’s delegation and said Tim, we’ve got to do something, there are a bunch of people who are screwed here?
TM: Well, what they’re saying is well, we’ll eventually fix this, this will be okay. The website will be fixed, we’ll be fine. You know, sometimes when the doctor tells you you’ve got to take your medicine or you’re going to get sicker, and people say I’m not going to take my medicine, the sad story is sometimes, people have to wait until it’s in their face and they can’t deny it anymore. I hate to put people through that. We have tried 40 different votes on the floor, many, many more in committee to try and say look, folks, I’ve read this bill, I’m telling you it’s a problem. And maybe, many will still not see that until it hits them in the face.
HH: You know, I mean, that first..
TM: So I never, just starting to see thy want to do a delay, but I think it’s going to be more than that.
HH: That first week in January, I mean, this is the real focus here. There are going to be people who are not insured who will get sick, and they will lose everything. I mean, that’s what your Democratic colleagues, they’ve just got to get their arms around that.
TM: Well, and it may not, it may be that they don’t believe it until they see it. And if they continue to say gee, once we have this worked out, everything will be fine, it’s okay. Well, if it’s all fine, then that’s what we have. And we will see that, and everything’s going to be great. We certainly see, though, this is more than just predicting tea leaves. This is reality saying these costs are out of control. I did a study in my subcommittee on Oversight Investigation. We surveyed seventeen different national insurance companies, and we found they send an average of 90%, nearly doubling of premiums.
TM: Some of them as high as 413%. Now granted, there are some who are going to go down in New York State, and Oregon, states that already have a huge number of mandates tacked on will see things actually go down a little bit. But people who are middle aged and pre-retirement are going to see their rates way high.
HH: Well, good luck tomorrow, and remember my question for the Secretary. How many Americans will not have been able to keep the insurance that they had last year on January 1st, because that goes right at the President’s promise. Good luck, Tim Murphy, tomorrow, Congressman from Pennsylvania.
End of interview.