After telling CNN Chief National Correspondent John King that she does not support the health care reform bill crafted by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Republican Senate hopeful Carly Fiorina took on President Obama over his top domestic agenda item during the first year of his administration.
“If you listen to what the President Obama said about this health care proposal, even he agreed with me. He said he wouldn’t sign into law a bill that increased the deficit. He said he wouldn’t sign into law a bill that increased the cost of health care. If this bill goes through, President Obama will have to eat his words or break his promise.”
Depending on what time frame is used to analyze the costs and revenues associated with the bill, Republicans and Democrats dispute whether the Reid bill is deficit-neutral. And Fiorina’s assertion that the Reid bill would increase health care costs is the criticism often leveled by conservatives against the new taxes that would be levied in order to pay for some of the bill’s costs, and to an analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office which found that premiums in the public health insurance option would be higher than average because people taking advantage of the public option would be sicker than the rest of the population.
“I agree with the goals of health care reform,” Fiorina also told King. “What I strenuously disagree with is [the idea] that this bill, or the one that made it through the House, solves the problem in any way.”
Fiorina, a breast cancer survivor, also took issue with new recommendations from an independent task force as to when and how often women should get mammograms.
“Had I followed these recommendations... I could well not be sitting here,” Fiorina told King.
“The truth is all of these preventative techniques… are saving lives. Who is to say that a nameless, faceless government bureaucrat in Washington, D.C. should determine that my life is too expensive to save?”
In response to the report, Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the guidelines do not set federal policy and don't determine what services are covered by the federal government. “Keep doing what you have been doing for years - talk to your doctor about your individual history, ask questions, and make the decision that is right for you,” Sebelius said in a statement.
Pressed on how health care reform could achieve cost containment, Fiorina responded that the focus should be on providing quality care.
“First, the decisions about care should rest between a patient and their doctor, the people who know the science. Second, if we would focus more on quality of care, we would lower costs. That’s been proven over and over again.”
“I don’t see this debate really focused, frankly, on the real issues,” Fiorina also said Sunday, “quality and let’s make sure that everyone is covered. Sadly, we have a business case [for health care reform] that doesn’t add up, quality isn’t going to be improved, and costs are on the rise.”
Fiorina has her sights set on challenging California Democrat Sen. Barbara Boxer who is up for re-election in 2010. To do so, Fiorina must first win the Republican nod in a primary race against conservative California Assemblyman Chuck DeVore. Fiorina is the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard and the first woman to lead a Fortune 500 company. She was also an adviser to the 2008 McCain presidential campaign on economic issues.