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GOP Source: Headlines on Health Effort "Terrible"; CBO: 24M Fewer Insured by 2026 under GOP Health Plan; Democrats on GOP Plan for Obamacare Replacement; 15 Million in Northeast Under Blizzard Warning. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired March 14, 2017 - 10:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: -- minutes ago. Then of course, there was a storm on Capitol Hill. Any minute, we will hear from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Looking at live pictures, right there on the right, she will hold a news conference. She is extremely eager to talk about the Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. Why so eager? Well, the Congressional Budget Office report that now predicts 24 million more Americans will be without insurance by 2026 if that Republican plan becomes law. We have a team of reporters covering this one.

Want to begin with CNN senior White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny. Jeff, the White House out trying to spin this this morning.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: They are, John. And using your storm analogy, one bit more here, the storm over health care is going to last longer than the snowstorm here in Washington, without question. Now there's no surprise necessarily from the White House and House Republicans that the CBO report was not a very favorable. They were expecting this but they were not necessarily expecting that top line number of 24 million more Americans would be uninsured over a ten-year period here.

But they are trying to spin this, if you will, that it would save money in the long run because it eliminates the mandate over the coverage here. But it also certainly does not make it easier to pass the bill. Republicans are trying to assess this. They are trying to -- House Republicans in particular are looking to the White House for some more reassurances here. And I'm told that we will hear more from the White House on this later today. But the director of the OMB, Mick Mulvaney, of course a former member of the House, conservative member of the House, he dismissed the CBO score this morning on CNN. He said this. Let's listen.


MICK MULVANEY, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET: I'll say that again. The CBO is assuming if you get Medicaid, once the mandate is gone you will give up your free Medicaid and replace it with nothing. The CBO report is full of errors. Not errors. They're just bad assumptions like that. It's the only way you can get to these bizarre numbers.

So I don't think its damage control as much as laying out to people exactly what we thought would happen. The CBO doesn't do a very good job at counting coverage.


ZELENY: Now, John that is something we hear a lot from whoever is in the White House. They believe that the CBO is not favorable to them. We heard it back in the Clinton administration during the health care arguments then, the Obama administration as well. But the CBO is as close to a neutral referee as you can get in all of this.

The reality here now is what does the president do? He has been supportive of this House GOP plan. He certainly is not changing his position but is he going to be open to more changes because of that top headline number, that 24 million? That's something we're going to have to wait and see. But he'll be on the road tomorrow in Tennessee, tomorrow evening, holding a big campaign rally to drum up support for this. Of course, it makes it all the more difficult with the CBO number now hanging over this. John?

BERMAN: And Jeff, we should also say that yesterday was the deadline from the House Intelligence Committee. They were looking for answers from the Department of Justice. Evidence backing up if it exists for why the president claimed that he was wiretapped by President Obama. The administration says it needs more time.

ZELENY: Indeed the Department of Justice asked the House Intelligence Committee for more time. They said -- we don't know if they're dragging their feet here or if they're looking for some evidence or some place in the middle here. But the House Intelligence Committee says, OK, you can have more time but not much more time. If they do not present any evidence if there is any by next week, next Monday when that hearing happens, they said they could subpoena them for the information here. So, John, this is going to continue to hang over the White House as well.

BERMAN: David Nunes, the House Intelligence chair who has been an ally of this White House, actually sounded pretty stern about saying the administration needs to produce something and fast. Jeff Zeleny, great to have you with us, thanks so much.

ZELENY: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: All right. As we are saying, we are waiting for Nancy Pelosi. She speaks live any moment now. Very eager to talk about the new Congressional Budget Office report on the Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. We're getting a lot of new reaction from Capitol Hill this morning. Sunlen Serfaty is there. Sunlen, what are you hearing?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, the CBO report has certainly emboldened many Democrats up here on Capitol Hill feeling like this is their moment to capitalize, stay on the offensive against the health care bill that they frankly do not like at all. Especially as the divisions within the Republicans start to widen and the aftermath of this CBO report.

So we have seen Democrats like Nancy Pelosi all over. This is her -- will be her second press conference in 16 hours or so since the CBO bill report has been released. And we saw her saying yesterday that this is -- this spin coming from the White House and Republicans in the aftermath of the report is like trying to pin a rose on something to make it good in the end. And she called on the House leadership to pull the bill, something that of course, they have said they will not do. Speaker Ryan, not going to really give an inch here indicated that he will be pushing forward on his bill. John?

BERMAN: All right, Sunlen Serfaty for us on Capitol Hill. Sunlen thanks so much.

[10:05:01] David Gergen joins us right now, CNN senior political analyst. Also, Andre Bauer is here, former lieutenant governor of South Carolina, CNN political commentator. Maria Cardona, a CNN political commentator and Democratic Strategist. Thank you one and all for being here.

David Gergen, 24 million people. 24 million more people will be uninsured in ten years. That is a tough number, whether or not you support this plan that is a difficult number. And now Speaker Paul Ryan and the president, the White House, we think are in the business of still trying to defend this plan. How is the White House doing?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, right now they are on back on their heels because it's a much bigger number than anybody else has put out. But you know, when John, when we've swung from 20 million people added to insurance rolls, 20 million now have protection. And you swing it all the way back to 24 million then lose it. You know, from the point of view of the population at large, that's a big loss.

And also, I think what the Republicans have got to understand is, the message is going to get through. What you're doing is you're cutting taxes for the top 2 percent. You're cutting back on Medicaid. So, yes, you know the government looks better, but it also means a lot of people get -- lose their coverage because you can't pay for it. You know, if you're not paying for medicare - or Medicaid and you aren't paying those taxes, you are going to lose people off the rolls.

BERMAN: The CBO report says that a number of the people, if will choose not to enroll because the mandate will go away. They don't say why. They'll choose. They may choose because they don't want it. They may choose because they can't afford it. But there will be a choice amongst some, not all of the 24 million.

Andre Bauer, I want to bring you one of these conversations right now because President Trump, during the transition, said that he wanted insurance for everybody. 24 million fewer Americans on insurance is not everybody.

ANDRE BAUER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Absolutely not. A couple points, number one, I don't know why the Republicans are in such a hurry. I realize there are problems with Obamacare. But I think they ought to be very deliberative. I think they need to do everything they can to show where they are actually driving costs down.

We haven't talked about, really, prescription drug coverage. There are so many things. People need to have more information. If one hospital is cheaper for a shoulder surgery than another, people ought to be able to shop and know where the best price is and who has the best service. These are discussions I hadn't heard the Republicans talk about. Look, clearly, I'm for the Republicans coming up with a better plan. -- Yes?

BERMAN: All I was going to say is that the CBO report does say that the deficit will go down, by a lot. I mean, by more than $300 billion. The CBO does say premiums will go down by 10 percent. But it also says that 24 million fewer Americans will be uninsured. And the question is, is it worth that? Is it worth it to you?

BAUER: Well, I want to see them do it without the people falling off the rolls. And I think there's a way to do both. But I don't like the idea that we have to do this by April deadline. I want to take a lot of time, be very judicious to make sure that they don't own a bad bill that the Republicans own right now -- I mean that the Democrats own right now. They own Obamacare. So if Trumpcare is going to come in, let's make sure it's substantially better and the American people actually feel the difference.

BERMAN: So, Maria Cardona, I want to bring you in to this conversation. Last hour, I was speaking to a Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy who got angry at me, frankly, when I suggested that the CBO report said, which it does say, that premiums will go down after ten years. It does, in fact, say that premiums will go down 10 percent after ten years. Premiums are a problem. And it is something that does need to be dealt with. But again, you know, it's a choice between lower premiums and something else here.

MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Sure. But I would say a couple of things, John. What happens in the ten years until those premiums go down? What you mentioned, I think, is critical and this is what Democrats are underscoring. You're going to have millions of people that are going to be losing health care coverage. And when you look at -- when Americans are going to look at the savings of what the Republican health care bill does and then where those savings go, David Gergen mentioned this, they want this for tax cuts for rich people.

So, you are literally, you know, they are playing Robin Hood in reverse and this is what Democrats are going to continue to underscore. And what the other ironic thing here, John, is if you look at the counties that are going to be hardest hit by the Republican bill, they are the 24, 25 counties where Donald Trump won the most voters. Those are the counties that are going to be the hardest hit by the Republican bill where Trump voters are going to see either lose their coverage or they're going see their premiums go up. You guys had a graph that we've been seeing all morning where a person who is 64 years old, I believe, under the Affordable Care Act pays, you know, $1500 and then under the GOP plan will pay almost $15,000.

[10:10:00] And so again, these are realities that Republicans are going to have to deal with as they try to push this bill and literally, push it down our throats because they have not shared this with the majority of the American people or Democrats have not had a chance to really chime in here.

BERMAN: Premiums for younger people, for 21-year-olds, also for 40- year-olds will go down. It is a choice. And Republicans are going to have to explain why that choice is a good one. That's on them. Democrats are going to have to explain why it's a bad choice and that's on them. You are seeing some of those Democrats right now, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer standing right there and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi there, getting ready to speak. Let's listen in.


DR. ALICE CHEN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, DOCTORS FOR AMERICA: The cold wintry mix out there. Thank you all for joining us today for the final stop of the Save My Care Bus Tour as we transition to the next phase to fight for affordable, high quality health care for all Americans.

My name is Dr. Alice Chen. I'm the executive director of Doctors for America and a practicing internist. I am here today on behalf of health care professionals across the country who are standing with our patients today against the hasty and irresponsible repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

I stand here today with members of Congress and people whose lives depend on the Affordable Care Act and on Medicaid. And to say Congress must abandon the current efforts to repeal the law and put in its place provisions that would jeopardize the health care of millions of Americans.

Two months ago, we launched the Save My Care Bus Tour because what's at stake is the lives of real people in cities and towns across America. Our bus tour -


BERMAN: We're going to wait for Senator Schumer to speak or House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. That will happen any second. While we are waiting on that, David Gergen, you know the Democrats here are playing classic opposition. They're just going to oppose, oppose, oppose, fight, fight, fight.


BERMAN: Is there any risk in that for them? Because Obamacare, while it's more popular now than it has been, you know, it has had its problems over the last eight years.

GERGEN: There is risk. And I don't think they have to address it immediately but they do need to come and tell us how to fix Obamacare. There are problems with it. Democrats know that. Republicans know that. And they need to show people they are serious about trying to protect Americans and protect their coverage and not having premium goes through the roof. The prices are going up rapidly. So it needs to be fixed. But the problem is, the dilemma the Republicans have is to any bill that actually fixes Obamacare and keeps everybody covered is an expensive bill and it's too expensive for Republicans to vote for it. That's the basic dilemma.

BERMAN: -- I'm talking about Mo Brooks, the congressman who told us, this bill was a lump of coal, last week. You know, I'm curious to see what he says now that it turns out it will, you know, cut the deficit or the debt by $300 billion over ten years, which is a lot of money. I want to get his take on that.

I'm going to shift topics now, which is a risk because we are going to jump back to this news conference when we hear from Senator Schumer or Nancy Pelosi. But Andre, I want to get your take and I'm not going to play it, on the fact that the White House now maybe seems to be backing off a little bit. The president's without evidence, evidence- free claim, that he was wiretapped by President Obama, you know, which is accusing the former president of a felony without evidence.

Now, Sean Spicer says, well, he doesn't mean that President Obama wiretapped him and he used air quotes there, says, because it was in quotation marks it's all OK. You know, does this solve the problem, does this explain everything to you, Andre?

BAUER: No, it doesn't. I think they've got to come up with a concrete digestible fact, where American people can say, yes, Donald Trump was right, that they were in some way observing what he was doing. I mean, but again, we haven't heard any concrete evidence. I know everybody on this station says that Russia hacked the elections, but I haven't seen any evidence of what they did or how they did it. So if they in fact did that, how do we know they did that?

BERMAN: I mean it's not just this station, Andre. I mean, it's you know, 16 intelligence agencies -


BAUER: No, no, I mean the media in general has -

BERMAN: -- it was important to President Obama and in President-elect Trump who said that Russia did, you know, hack into the election process. Not the counting the votes and what not but it said it tried to get into the election. You know, President Trump, now admits that Russia was involved right there.

The question, though, is, is there evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia? We have, Maria Cardona, seen no evidence of that. No one has produced any evidence of that still to date. We have this hearing next Monday where we're going to hear from a whole bunch of former officials and current officials. They'll be asked tough questions. I think there's going to be a lot of interest in this hearing. First of all, Maria, but what will you be looking for there?

CARDONA: I actually will be looking for the Justice Department producing this evidence of what the president about a week ago, so irresponsibly said about the former president. And this is such a big deal, John, that I think -- and I'm so glad that this station has done such great coverage on this. And you all keep saying if the president really wanted proof of what he so drastically claimed happened by the former president, he could pick up the phone.

[10:15:10] The problem is the reason why he hasn't done that or why we haven't seen anything or why the Justice Department is asking for more time is because there doesn't seem to be any evidence of it. And we have seen other people from the Intelligence Community actually say they don't think there is any evidence of this.

So this is a hugely irresponsible move by this administration. -

BERMAN: OK, hang on.

CARDON: And if we had a dollar for every time - OK.

BERMAN: Hang on one second, Maria. We'll get that money later. Let's listen to Nancy Pelosi right now. She's talking about health care.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: -- and Paula from Worcester, Ohio and Dr. Chen as well. This is the demonstration of your support. The stories that you tell are so eloquent. The story that the CBO told yesterday was so clear. Under the Affordable Care Act, the -- number of people without insurance was cut in half. Under the proposal of the Republicans, the number of people uninsured will not only grow to where it was before the Affordable Care Act, it will be more people uninsured.

Hippocratic Oath is do no arm. They are doing harm with this bill, not only if it passes, which hopefully it will not, but in the fear that it is instilling in people. Stress is the last thing anyone needs when they are sick. And this bill is causing great concern, stress and fear for so many people.

So "Save My Care." I love the title because it's about each individual's possession of their care, their health, their future. We know what the CBO said yesterday, stunning to think that they are taking $600 billion in a Robin Hood in reversal -- reverse Robin Hood stunt, $600 billion from the people who need it most and their health care and giving it to the people who need it least.

Ironically, many of the people who will be deprived of health care are people who are -- live in rural parts of our country, are older Americans, people who have issues relating to addiction in their families. The list goes on. It's very, very troubling. It's very, very cruel. It must be stopped, and this bus, which we were going to greet outside but for the weather, but the weather, did not hold them back.

And so, I'm not supposed to introduce the next person, but I certainly want to welcome in terms of the bus trip. But I certainly want to welcome the Democratic leader of the Senate who has been such a champion on this issue for a long time and a fighter right now as we are at this crucial time. Let us welcome Democratic leader Chuck Schumer.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: Thank you. Thank you, leader Pelosi for your great leadership on first, getting this passed and now preserving it because of all the good it's done. I really want to thank the Save My Care Bus Tour and Dr. Chen and most importantly, the people who have come and are giving testimony to how important it is and my dear friend and great new senator from the state of New Hampshire, which is expected to get two feet of snow, Senator Hassan. And that's nothing here in Washington, of course. Two inches is a lot.

Anyway, we're all here today because we see something that clearly, our Republicans in the House are -- sorry, we're here today because we see something that our Republican colleagues in the House can't see. Trumpcare is a wreck. And we all knew that before the Congressional Budget Office released its surprisingly scathing score last night. The Republicans' own hand-picked CBO director confirmed what Democrats have said all along. Trumpcare would be a nightmare for the American people causing tens of millions to lose coverage, millions more to see the costs of health care go way up.

Ten years from today, if President Trump and Republicans have their way, there will be 24 million more Americans without health insurance. A total of 52 million Americans living in this country ten years from now will not have health insurance. That's un-American. That's wrong. We're going to fight it tooth and nail. Premiums for some seniors as was mentioned by Dr. Chen would go up a whopping 20 to 25 percent. Co- pays and deductibles for millions more up, up, up.

[10:20:06] And you know the struggles. You're going to hear them. Our words can't equal what you're going to hear in a few minutes of people who have to make that horrible choice. How I can't afford health care but my child, my parent, my spouse will die unless I somehow come up with an ability to pay for it. Why do people want to put people in that position? We've tried to prevent that from happening whenever we can and they want to undo all that. So, it's a real problem.

And seniors, if there was ever a war on seniors, this bill is it, spends more on tax cuts for health insurance companies in the wealthy than on tax credits to help the middle class. It's vintage Donald Trump. Talks like a populist, but when he acts, it is far right favoring the special interests and hurting the middle class and those trying to get there.

The only winners in this CBO report are health insurance executives and the wealthiest Americans, people who make over $250,000 a year. They get a huge tax break. Everyone else gets a cold shoulder from the Republicans in Congress and from President Trump.

Now, when President Trump was candidate Trump, he literally called "The Washington Post" and told them that, quote, "He's going to have health insurance for everybody, much less expensive, much better," his words, saying one thing, as CBO now tells, doing another.

The nonpartisan scorekeepers have spoken clearly and they -- are being attacked now. Guess who chose the head of CBO? Dr. Price. Guess where this man worked? The Mercader Institute, helped and funded in good part by the Koch brothers.

And now, they're saying what he's saying isn't real. I mean, do facts matter anymore to our colleagues, to the president? Does truth matter? Sad, as somebody once said.

The CBO report should be a knockout blow for Republicans in Congress. They should heed the warning. Turn back from their plan that will be a disaster for our dear country. Now I'll turn it back over to Dr. Alice.

CHEN: Thank you so much Leader Schumer for you leadership.


BERMAN: All right, listening to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, then - Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, actually trolling President Trump. He is suggesting that the Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, Chuck Schumer just said, "Sad, as I once heard someone say," David Gergen there.

It is interesting to hear the Democrats here draw this line or trying to jump on this new CBO report and make an argument that Obama supporters admit that President Obama should have made more strongly eight years ago when Obamacare was being passed. This is not about care. It's about covering people who don't have coverage and needing it, getting more people on the rolls, not necessarily improving care for everybody.

GERGEN: Well, that's right. And we've had seven presidents who tried to provide universal coverage for Americans going all the way back to Harry Truman. You can in fact, go back to FDR. President Obama was the first one to get it through.

BERMAN: It's not universal coverage. I mean --

GERGEN: It was not universal coverage but it's been a much bigger coverage than we have ever seen before. And much higher percentage of people had been covered. But, you know there were flaws in the Obamacare bill and one of the tragedies, John, was it passed with no Republican votes. And so, the Republicans have made a political football ever since. And they've been able to jump on all the flaws that are there. And now they've got -- their own plan which is not going to get any Democratic votes.

You know, the country needs a bipartisan solution to this. It's going to be expensive. But if we really want, is it moral to cut taxes for the rich so that a lot of other people lose their health care insurance? Is that really where we are as a country? Is that really what the Republicans want to do? I think there are a lot of Republicans in the Senate who will not want to go down that path.

BERMAN: I think we're hearing that now. - No question about it. How do you argue that it's OK that 24 million Americans -- more Americans will not have insurance? We will listen very closely to what Republicans say over the coming days and weeks. David Gergen, Andre Bauer and Maria Cardona, thanks so much for being with us. Really appreciate it.

GERGEN: Thank you.

CARDONA: Thank you, John.

BERMAN: All right. Ahead, 15 million people being hit with a blizzard. Hartford could be hit the hardest. We're going to head there next.


[10:29:12] BERMAN: Snowmageddon more like No-mageddon, at least at New York City. A short time ago, Blizzard warnings were lifted for the City of New York. The forecast downgraded from miserable to merely wretched or maybe upgraded. They're not so lucky to the north of here.

About 15 million people remain in the path of this storm and they're going to get a lot of snow in cities including Boston, Hartford, as well. More than 6,000 flights are canceled early tomorrow. And that number keeps on changing. Along with this weather, thousands of schools, they are closed. And, really, the worst could be yet to come today because the wind will pick up. You'll see black ice on the roads. It will be a mess.

Joining me now from Hartford, the Capital of Connecticut, CNN's Miguel Marquez. Miguel, in the middle of it wearing goggles. Miguel, how does it look through those goggles?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's really starting to pick up. And they may have as high as 60 miles per hour gusts here today. We're not seeing that yet. But it's really starting to pick up. We're seeing the worst snow conditions so far. Started about 1:00 a.m. here and now it's getting really bad.