JEFFREY BROWN: And we come back to the health care reform issue with a focus on the political implications.
Judy Woodruff is in charge.
JUDY WOODRUFF: For congressional perspective, we are joined now from Capitol Hill by two members of the House. Rep. Raul Grijalva, he’s a Democrat from Arizona. And Rep. Peter Roskam, the GOP deputy whip, he’s from Illinois and he was in the courtroom today.
Congressmen, thank you both for joining us.
REP. RAUL GRIJALVA, D-Ariz.: Thank you.
JUDY WOODRUFF: I want to just start by asking you both. I want to try to take your temperature.
Rep. Grijalva, how are you and your allies feeling after three days of these arguments before the court? Are you feeling as if the law is going to be upheld and it’s going to go your way?
REP. RAUL GRIJALVA: Yes, I think the sense of optimism is always difficult to gauge.
But I think we have history on our side. Every time there has been a point in this nation’s history, whether it was the issue of civil rights, issue of education and access, the Supreme Court has stepped in to close that divisiveness and to extend the common good and welfare to the American people. This is that kind of case with historic implications. And because of history, I feel that the court will do the right thing.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Rep. Roskam, what about you and your allies? Let me take your temperature. Are you feeling that the case — that the court will do — the majority will go as you want them to, and that is strike the law down?
REP. PETER ROSKAM, R-Ill.: Well, I’m feeling like most Americans are. According to The New York Times, only one in four Americans thinks that the court should leave this law intact.
And I think most folks, the more they have found out, they have been disappointed in it, and they want to see it repealed and replaced. So I was at the hearing this morning that was focused in on the severability issue. And based on the nature of the questions — and I know it’s dangerous to speculate and to over-interpret — but based on the nature of the questions, I would be surprised if the law comes through with the unblemished imprimatur of the United States Supreme Court.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, staying with you, Congressman Roskam, practical consequences. If the court rules that the individual mandate is unconstitutional and either much or all of this law falls, what happens?
REP. PETER ROSKAM: Well, then Congress has the opportunity to revisit it, and I would argue, to do that in a more thoughtful way.
One of the criticisms of the passage of the bill originally was it didn’t get the type of vetting that would have been helpful to create a consensus to drive forth with two major themes. And this is where I think President Obama missed an opportunity, and that is to focus in on cost reduction, dealing with preexisting conditions in a patient-centered way.
So, if the court strikes down the entire bill, we generally have a national consensus that says we need to revisit this and put these themes in place. And I think that we can do it, but we can do it in a way that doesn’t have an adverse impact on doctor-patient relationship and doesn’t have an adverse impact on cost, which you have just seen, even according to the Congressional Budget Office, is accelerating at a rate at which they didn’t actually contemplate.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Rep. Grijalva, let me put that question to you.
If what the court decides is to say that the individual mandate is unconstitutional and they knock down either much or all of the law, as much as we have been hearing the last few days, what do you think the practical consequences would be?
REP. RAUL GRIJALVA: The practical consequence is that we’re still dealing with the reality, 45 million people uninsured.
This law would take to us 30 million that will receive insurance by 2014. Preexisting conditions as a denial point for insurance is prohibited under this law, kid under 26, still being able to be carried by their parents on their insurance, community ratings so that insurance companies tell the community why their premiums are going up, the 80/20 rule, that 80 percent of the money that insurance companies get must go to patient health care.
And then I think the most important thing is beginning to strike a balance. You know, this whole law was about a compromise. The individual mandate is a Heritage Foundation idea promoted by Romney and Newt Gingrich. So, as we go forward, I think it will be a big win if it’s struck down for the private insurance carriers and a huge loss for the American people. We will see more uninsured, and we will see price goes up and up regarding health care.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let me come back to you, Congressman Roskam, on that point. That’s a pretty dark scenario that your colleague there is painting. Why wouldn’t that be the result if the court knocks much of this law down?
REP. PETER ROSKAM: Well, let’s put it in the totality of the situation.
President Obama, when he was advocating the law originally, said that you would get to keep the coverage that you have if you like it, and that’s turned out not to be true. He said it was going to be a cost-saver. That’s turned out not to be true.
I have constituent companies and small businesses in my district, Judy, that have said that they are unwilling to expand their business and hire new full-time people based on the adverse impact of the cost of this new health care law.
So I think where Raul and I would be able to come together is to say, look, there’s nobody that wants to defend the status quo. That is, you can focus in on things that drive costs down, which makes health care more affordable, and you can focus in on funding high-risk pools that deal with preexisting conditions, and I think that there’s a very thoughtful way to move forward. It’s my hope. . .
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well. . .
REP. PETER ROSKAM: Go ahead.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, I was just going to say, I want to ask you about that, because Justice Kennedy even referred to that today. He referred to the ability of Congress to come together if the court decides to knock much of this down.
He talked about — he said reworking health care, if they did that, would fall to — quote — “the real Congress or a hypothetical Congress,” in other words, raising questions about whether Congress can come together on health care, on questions of health care.
REP. PETER ROSKAM: Look, it’s incumbent up us to drive towards a solution that I think deals with two core themes, that is, getting health care costs so that they’re manageable and predictable in a positive way, and dealing with the cumulative social cost of dealing with preexisting conditions.
I think that we can do this. And I am absolutely convinced we can.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, Congressman Grijalva, let me just turn, frankly, to a political — purely political perspective.
What happens if the court knocks much of this law aside or down? What does the Democratic Party do? What does it mean for President Obama?
REP. RAUL GRIJALVA: I think what the Democratic Party does in Congress is — if it’s struck down, is to pursue the agenda that we started with, affordability, access to health care for the millions and millions of Americans that don’t have any insurance or coverage.
And with that comes the attention of the American people on Congress to see what we craft. And I would I would beg to say that the fundamental differences will be about access, coverage and cost controls. They continue to be preeminent in this whole debate. And if it comes back to the House, then the American people will sit in judgment about who is trying to extend the benefit to the majority of the American people and who is restricting and listening to insurance companies in terms of what direction to do health care.
We’ve listened to them in the past, and this is why we have the mess we have.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But, Rep. Grijalva, staying with you, how much though would the president be hurt politically if that were to happen? This is a centerpiece, domestic centerpiece of his administration.
REP. RAUL GRIJALVA: I think the president would have to rise to this occasion, and he has in the past. I don’t see it as a direct damage to President Obama. I see it as — I think the American people will see it as a direct damage to them and to the costs that they’re having to incur with health care.
Crafting a different solution becomes the problem of Congress, and the president will have a huge role in resolving this issue one more time.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Conversely, Congressman Roskam, if the court does decide to uphold the law, or say it casts aside the individual mandate, but says the rest of the law can stand, what does that mean politically in this election year?
REP. PETER ROSKAM: Well, so, there’s two questions there.
If the law is upheld entirely by the court — and I don’t think that’s likely — but if it is, then you would have ultimately a referendum question this November, where the country says they either approve of that decision by the Obama administration to enact this law, or not.
And that will be — that will manifest itself in the course of the presidential campaign. Now, if they strike down part of this — so, for example, if they strike down the individual mandate and leave the other pieces intact, then you’ve got a huge funding problem, and I would suggest that that is an outcome that would please nobody.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, gentlemen, we’re going to leave it there. We have got a little time to think about it until we know what the court does.
Rep. Peter Roskam, Rep. Raul Grijalva, thank you.
REP. PETER ROSKAM: Thank you.
REP. RAUL GRIJALVA: Thank you.
JEFFREY BROWN: Online, we have extensive coverage of the health care reform law. You can listen to the audio of today’s arguments or read the transcript. We also have more reporting from Marcia Coyle. Plus, we asked two policy analysts for their opinions on the constitutionality of the Medicaid expansion.
That’s all at NewsHour.PBS.org.