Question: How do you evaluate Obama’s handling of healthcare reform?
Ed Koch: Well, I am for passage of the legislation no matter what shape it comes out of the ultimate debate in the Senate on the basis that it isn't good enough currently, things that are there that I don't agree with, but let's get it passed and then amend it. I don't agree with those who say that people who want to spend their money on what other's call Cadillac insurance instead of buying a Cadillac should be taxed for that. Why should we all be brought down to a common denominator of less than what some of us think we would like to insure ourselves for?
I, for example, have just been through a horrendous hospitalization involving a quadruple bypass and replacement of the aorta valve and I was in the Intensive Care Unit for five weeks because on several occasions the doctors didn't think I would make it because of problems that arose. The ultimate costs of my stay, and I'm not on Medicare because I'm a working person. And if you're on a working basis, your first carrier is your private carrier. So, I don't cost the government money at this point, so far as I know, under Medicare.
My estimated costs of the doctors and the hospital service that I had, I'm told, is probably in excess of a million dollars. Now, if I want to have a million dollars as I have by way of insurance, should I be taxed for that simply because you want to bring in people who don't have any insurance at all? I don't think so. Next time I'll buy a Cadillac.
Question: How do you feel Obama is handling the legislation?
Ed Koch: Well, he's not doing a bad job. His philosophy was to allow the Congress to come up with the different proposals in both the Senate and the House. I don't fall from, on the **** and say, "Oh no, he should have put it together." Why? He doesn't have any greater expertise that I'm aware of than does the chairman of the various committees and the chairman of those committees, like Max Baucus and others.
So, I'm not faulting him. I disagree with some of the things that he has done. For example, the prior President, George W. Bush, in the deal made with the drug companies prohibited Medicare from getting volume discounts on drugs. And my recollection is that our new change president, Barrack Obama was against that. Now he comes into office and he makes an even worse deal with the drug companies in exchange apparently for the drug companies agreeing to support the comprehensive health insurance legislation. The President agrees that the drug companies, the prescription drug company’s participation in paying for all of this will be limited to an aggregate of $80 Billion over a ten year period, or $8 billion a year. Now, it happens that if you’ve got a 30%, which is a very modest discount, it would mean something like $140 billion a year by way of savings, and over a ten year period, instead of $80 billion, it would be a savings of over a trillion dollars. Why did he give that away? Why does he prevent, by law, continuing the George Bush law, Americans from going to Canada, even on the websites or walking across the border, and buying drugs, American drugs made by American companies, offered at 50% discounts. We're not allowed to have the benefit of that. Why?
So there are things that I don't understand and that I am disappointed in Barrack Obama on those issues.