TRANSCRIPT: The Republican Debate

Who do you side with, President Bush or Senator Grassley?

HUCKABEE: I think I'd like to side with the people of America who really are looking for a lot better action than they're getting out of their president or Congress.

You know, if you want to know how to fix it, I've got a solution. Either give every American the same kind of health care that Congress has, or make Congress have the same kind of health care that every American has.

(APPLAUSE)

They'll get it fixed.

And the issue in this country is that we really have an incredible problem because our system is upside-down. It focuses on intervention at the catastrophic level of disease rather than really focusing on prevention.

So we've got a system that, no matter how much money we pour into it, we're not going to fix it.

HUCKABEE: We're not going to fix it until we begin to address the fact that this country has put its focus not on wellness, not on prevention, not on health, but on sickness.

And that's the single most important and urgent thing that has to be done.

And if we don't do that, then we're going to continue just pouring money -- and it's almost like having a boat that's taking on water, and rather than plugging the hole, we want to get a bigger bucket to take the water out of the boat.

YEPSEN: Governor Thompson, same question to you. Who do you side with in that dispute, the president or Iowa's senior senator?

THOMPSON: David, I want you to know that health care is one of my major dominant fields. I was secretary of health.

Neither one of them are right.

The problem is, is Governor Huckabee is absolutely correct. We've got a sickness, illness and disease society. We spend 90 percent of $2 trillion, ladies and gentlemen -- that's 16 percent of the gross national product -- on getting people well after they get sick.

Less than 10 percent of the money keeping you out of the hospital, out of the nursing home. Does anybody in America think that's a smart idea? I think it's dumb. Let's go to wellness and prevention.

Number two, let's start managing diseases in America. Let's make sure that individuals that are chronically ill and physically disabled are able to get the quality of health and therefore get the quality of life.

They take up 66 percent of the cost. You could reduce that down to 50 percent.

YEPSEN: Congressman Tancredo...

THOMPSON: Number three -- I just would like to say -- on the uninsured, you could get one form, like we do on the 1040 for taxes, one form for the employment system, and you could save $137 billion.

That would cover all of the uninsured in America without raising taxes, ladies and gentlemen.

YEPSEN: Congressman Tancredo, how do you cover this (ph)?

(APPLAUSE)

TANCREDO: Let me suggest -- let me suggest we think about something in the area of health care that perhaps is unique, different and scary to some people, but that is this: The government -- it's not the responsibility of the federal government to provide womb-to- tomb health care for America.

(APPLAUSE)

And so, we constantly debate on exactly what way we want to push government control of this issue, but in every way we're doing it, it's unhealthy. It is unhealthy to have a government health-care plan in America.

There are some things we can do, absolutely. The expansion of health savings accounts that increases individual responsibly. The allowing for people to actually take -- the reimportation of prescription drugs.

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