Axelrod on Health Care: ‘There Will Be Compromises’

By Jacqueline Klingebiel

Oct 18, 2009 12:30pm

No new red-lines today from David Axelrod on health care.

He wouldn't take sides on public option between House Dems and Olympia Snowe.

And he resisted union claims that excise tax on health plans is a middle class tax.

On the deficit, he signaled that President would sign $248 billion dollar "fix" in Medicare doctor payments scheduled for a vote this week — even if specific "pay-fors" not attached.

Here's our exchange:

STEPHANOPOULOS:  Yet just this week, the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, is going to bring a bill to the floor that — Republicans call this the first installment on health care, which is going to permanently repeal savings gotten from payments — Medicare payments to doctors, $248 billion over 10 years.  Must that be paid for, for the president to sign it?

AXELROD:  George, first of all, understand that that — when the Republicans say this is the first installment on health care, it's not part of the health care bill.  This — this has been — there's been…

STEPHANOPOULOS:  It was in the House bill.

AXELROD:  Yes, but the point is that, every year, this — this provision of the Medicare law goes into effect.  Every year, draconian cuts are proposed for doctors that would have a deleterious effect on patients.  And every year, the Congress acts on it and defers on that. And the fact is, it's a charade.

Everyone in the Congress knows they're not going to let that go forward.  All that we're saying here is, let's be honest about it. The president provided for it in his budgets, and we ought to acknowledge that this is a — this is an ongoing expense that we'll have to meet.

STEPHANOPOULOS:  But isn't it actually — isn't it also a charade if you're saying, "We're going to do this.  We're not going to pay for this $248 billion," and that's the only way you can end up not increasing the deficit…

AXELROD:  Well, it will be — it will be part of the budget.  It will be paid for as we move — as we move forward.  The fundamental health reform, George, that we're talking about that would provide subsidies to people who can't afford health care today and ancillary expenses are all going to be paid for.

STEPHANOPOULOS:  But will — would this particular bill have to be paid for?  Because the House — Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that she's not going to pass it through her chamber unless there are specific things…

AXELROD:  As I said, the president's provided for it in his — in his budget, and we will account for it.

Watch our full exchange HERE.

- George Stephanopoulos

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