Return to Transcripts main page


House Passes Health Care Bill; Trump Says Confident Health Care Bill Will Pass Senate. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired May 4, 2017 - 15:30   ET



REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY, (R-CA), MAJORITY LEADER: Conditions when there's no care at all? Or you read the paper yesterday and you look at Aetna pulling out of Virginia. Or Tennessee next year with 16 counties with no care. What about those families that paid into those 23 co-ops that Obamacare created. 18 have collapsed and the only answer the government gives them is a penalty. If you simply look at the facts, more people took the penalty or the exemption than actually signed up for Obamacare. I did not run to this office to promote a party. I ran for this office to make this country better. Yeah, it would be easy to say no. It would be easy to watch it collapse. But I can't look at those families. I don't think that's right. And that's the exact message I got from this administration.

Mr. President, I want to thank you. I want to thank you for your leadership. I want to thank the vice President. You know, I've only been through a few Presidents but I've never seen someone so hands on. I walked into my office yesterday morning and they said the President's calling again y. Pick up the phone, I happen to be the majority leader, the former whip. I know my members well. The President gives me a list of who he thinks I would be best to talk to on the list. And he was right. Mr. President, they all voted for the bill. today is a start. Today is the start of a new beginning. Yes, it's about providing better healthcare. But with I happen to have been a small business owner. I listened to my district.

Do you know how many families no longer have a 40-hour job and have to take two part-time jobs? Or how many small businesses told me that they couldn't expand anymore because they were afraid of what Obamacare would do for them. We are going to unshackle, build an economy, let people have greater choice in their healthcare and protect preexisting conditions. I thank you for that work. I want to call up -- I was this job before being a majority whip. I never had to go through a bill like this. And I will tell you, being the whip, really isn't one person. The deputy whip should get a lot of credit as well. Patrick McHenry. Steve Scalise never gave up. Answered every question. And the team between Scalise and McHenry I would take.

REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA), MAJORITY WHIP: Today we took the first step toward rescuing families from the failures of Obamacare. We've been seeing it play out all across the country. This isn't a hypothetical discussion. You see families struggling in every part of our country. I have families all the time in my district in southeast Louisiana sharing with me stories of double digit premium increases every single year. When we had the 27 and a half mark up, the longest in the history of Congress, to pass this bill out of committee, we had a long and important discussion about healthcare policy in America and this isn't about achieving come kind of political goal. It's about families. Families who are struggling under the weight of this law that doesn't work.

And so, I reached out to my own constituents and said share with me some of the stories and how this law, Obamacare, is affecting you personally. Unfortunately, I got a lot of horror stories. You know, we talked a lot about protecting people with preexisting conditions in the context of this bill.

[15:35:00] There are so many things, multiple layers in our bill that we passed today that not only protect people with preexisting conditions but actually focus real targeted money on lowering premiums for families with preexisting conditions. So, during the committee hearing, might have been around 3:00 in the morning, I shared a story of one of those constituents. Chris from Slidell who sent me a letter and talked about their family having preexisting conditions. They have family member with preexisting conditions and how because of the problems of Obamacare, they're paying double digit increases.

But this is the real story for families that have preexisting conditions that are truly being hurt by Obamacare. One of the untold stories are the dramatic increases in deductibles. So, there are a lot of families across the country that have over $10,000 deductibles. For most people that doesn't mean they can't use the healthcare they have with Obamacare. What Chris told me not only when we go to the doctor we have to pay so much but almost everything we're paying out of pocket because we have a large deductible. Basically, I'm paying a lot of money for a healthcare plan that doesn't work for me. Please provide relief for our family. We hear these stories over and over. What's been so encouraging about this debate is that from the very beginning, every member of Congress that's been involved in trying to get this bill passed has been focused on two main things.

The first one is lowering premiums for families that are struggling. The second is making sure that patients and doctors are the ones that make their own healthcare decisions. Unelected bureaucrats in Washington should not have anything to do with the healthcare decisions made between a patient and their doctor. And that ends with this bill. as we went through this process, and it took weeks, some people wanted it to take a couple days. We said we're going to take the time to get it right because it affects every person in the country. Every change that was made along the way made this bill better. Almost every change that was made along the way was focused on lowering premiums of course, you had a lot of other things which we wanted to do. We reformed the Medicaid program. So, we actually give governors and states the flexibility to go and be innovative and do things that will -- in a much more targeted way -- help low income families.

That's another important aspect of this bill. We wouldn't be here today without the work and the help of the President and the vice President of the United States directly getting involved. Because every meeting we had with members that wanted to get additional components added to the bill, President Trump said bring them into the white house. I want to meet with them. I want to talk to them about how we can lower premiums. President Trump knows Obamacare fairs. But it's failing because it's hurting people. Ultimately, all of the meetings that we had along the way, that made this bill better were focused on those objectives. And that's why it's so important we got this first step done today. There's a lot of work left to be done. I look forward to the Senate taking the action they need to take. Ultimately getting a bill to President Trump's desk that he'll sign that actually rescue families from this incredibly failed law and put patients back in charge of their healthcare decisions and lower premiums. And the man that led the charge in starting this process in the committee was Greg Walden. I want to bring him up.

REP. GREG WALDEN, R-OREGON: Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, it's been a pleasure to work with you hand in hand to get this bill to this point. I want to tell you what great team you have and what a great team we have. Mike, come on out here for a second. Dr. Mike Burgess did incredible work on this as well. You've heard a lot about our goal to get this back to a patient/doctor relationship. To make insurance affordable to every American and available where they have choices and lower cost and competition in that market. It's collapsing around us state by state, county by county. Last year there are 225 counties in America where you had one choice on Obamacare exchange. There are some counties where you'll have now choice now. That's not affordability, that's not access. That's not patient care. That is what we're trying to reform in this legislation. You heard about Medicaid reform. I started on Medicaid reform in the 1989 session of the Oregon legislature.

[15:40:00] We became the majority in '90, I was majority leader in '91. We continued the reforms of continuing the same goal to get people care they needed when they didn't have it. I continue that battle today. We reached out to governors, insurance commissioners, we reached out to innovators in this space. I think about Governor Herbert out at Utah who told us the story of having to petition CMS. The old CMS, to see if he could use a modern new --

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Congressman Greg Walden speaking now. We'll continue to monitor the celebration going on in the rose garden over at the white house. A big win for the Republicans and the House of Representatives. 217 to 213. That's the final vote. Passing the repeal and replacement of Obamacare. But there's still a long, long way to go in the United States Senate. Senate will take up this legislation presumably make several significant changes. John King, you see the President, he was very, very happy. This is a -- he takes -- deserves a lot of credit because he worked really hard over these past several days to get those final votes to reach 217.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And a smile on his face and the nodding as he receives praise and as the others praise, happy he is. This is a -- he takes -- deserves a lot of credit because he worked really hard over these past several days to get those final votes to reach 217.

And a smile on his face and the nodding as he receives praise and as the others praise the party involved in this, shows how happy he is. Very rare, this has passed one chamber of Congress and having a rose garden ceremony. This was so important to the President to try to say -- to rightly say we have passed out of the house a key Republican and key Trump campaign promise. Now his emphasis was trying to put pressure on the Senate to act as quickly as possible. That's the giant question, not to be the skunk at the rose garden party. Passing something in the house changes the optics in Washington and changes the conversation in Washington.

It changes absolutely nothing in the healthcare of Americans who are watching this. It changes nothing today. It's a step in the direction. Now the question is can the President get to the finish line. He's hoping this gives him a boost, momentum. That this gives him experience at the rough business of this. They failed 42 days ago. They succeed today. Can the President get this through the Senate in a way that you get back to the house and make a compromise s? That's a giant question. I will say this about the Senate, Senator Orrin Hatch says we need to manage expectations, focus on the art of the doable. The majority leader Mitch McConnell said thank you to the house for passing this, did not comment at all on the specifics of the bill. Just said he want today repeal and replace Obamacare. The guidance from the Senate leadership is we need the CBO score first because of the rules of the Senate. They can't take this bill up as it is until they know more about it. This is a big achievement for the President today. He needed this. If you look at the disgust among the conservative base at the spending bill, all the backlash for the spending bill that just passed. The President needed to look his base in the eye and say we made progress.

BLITZER: He deserves a lot of credit for this initial step.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Huge defeat he suffered 42 days ago and now he's celebrating. This is in some ways a sendoff party for the folks who will have to go back to their districts and talk to the constituents. You imagine Democrats will flood town halls. Some Republicans might not want to have town halls. The President sounding bullish. He promised premiums are going to start to come down. I'm not sure when he means they're going to start to come down. And he also said the deductibles will be going down as well. Today, you can see the places where Democrats can make ads out of this event. Laughing and joking and the celebration. You imagine that will end up happening from Democrats. Democrats still, you know, have a lot of work to do in terms of their messaging.

BLITZER: Gloria, the President was very, very specific. He said we're going to get this passed in the United States Senate. What a great group of people. He thanked the Republicans who have gathered. The vice President said this is the beginning of the end of Obamacare.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. And they made promises. They did make promises. Remember President Obama said if you like your healthcare you can keep it. We heard a lot of promises from Republicans. Your premiums are going to come down, there won't be changes in your preexisting conditions. That this is going to benefit you in every single way. We're going to have to see that. I want to point out one thing. That there are 23 Republicans we know who won in districts that Hillary Clinton won.

[15:45:00] 14 of them voted for this bill. Nine of them voted against this bill. You can be sure that the 14 of those Republicans and john, you know this better than anybody, 14 of those Republicans who voted for this bill have now a big target on their back from the Democratic party.

KING: Nancy Pelosi called it a tattoo.

HENDERSON: Unless those folks decide to retire. That's one of the things to look for over the next weeks as well. To see if they just -- they walk the plank and walk off to retirement.

BORGER: We can't emphasize the importance of this to people watching this. About what is going to happen to their healthcare. The uncertainty out there is a little frightening, I think for people particularly people with preexisting conditions, that cost an awful lot of money. They don't know what their state might do. They don't know what the Senate might do. They don't know what's going to happen to their states if Medicaid is block granted. So, people have to watch this very closely as we finally get the text of this legislation which we don't have yet. So, they can find out wait a minute, how is this going to affect my state? How is this going to affect me? People need to start asking lots of questions about this. As you go into the Senate debate on this bill.

BLITZER: The victory celebration continues in the rose garden over at the white house. Republican members of Congress, they are speaking, celebrating this victory in the House of Representatives. I want to bring in our senior political commentator, David Axelrod. Very quickly, do you remember after Obamacare the affordable care act was passed in the house and then went on to the Senate, was there a celebration in the rose garden similar to this one?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No. There was no celebration. You know, that was a -- I remember a long laborious process. And you know, there was no love lost between the house and Senate. And there was real tension between them. Even when it became apparent after Democrats lost Ted Kennedy's Senate seat that the house would have to swallow the Senate version of the bill because it couldn't go back there and get 60 votes. The house was resentful. It took a long time to get the house and a lot of negotiations to get the house to accept it. It's appropriate they're having the celebration in the rose garden because this is a thorny issue for Republicans. It's going to be hard to get it through the Senate. If they do, they've made promises here they'll have to keep. The Congressional budget office painted a much different picture of the impact of the bill that they just passed than you heard depicted by the President and members of Congress. At least the version before this one and everyone there says that's largely the same bill.

The only thing that's been added is that people with preexisting conditions are going to be a little less secure. So, I suspect -- you've seen a lot of senators already tweeting, Republican senators, that they aren't for the bill. Senator Portman, Senator Heller, Senator Alexander said thanks a lot we'll take our time now and consider this. So, they've got long way to go on this. But nobody relishes and hungered for a win more than Donald Trump. And he got at least a short-term win today. Hence the premature rose garden celebration.

BLITZER: It was an important win for the President of the United States, he's standing there. Republican members of Congress, they're still speaking in the rose garden. The President invited them to come up and say a few words. That's exactly what they are all doing. Celebrating this win in the House of Representatives. I want to bring in Lanhee Chen, he was the public policy direct for the Romney campaign. Steve Israel is with us as well. Our senior economics analyst, Steven Moore, former White House communications director Jen Psaki. What's your reaction?

LANHEE CHEN, PUBLIC POLICY DIRECTOR, ROMNEY CAMPAIGN: This is a significant accomplishment for the President and Paul Ryan and house Republicans. I think it's the case as many of your commentators have noted, the bill is going to change substantially in the Senate. You'll see provisions around Medicaid to equalize the treatment of states that did the Medicaid expansion and states that did not. More generous support for low income Americans to purchase health insurance.

[15:50:00] The bill you see leaving the house will look very different than the bill that will return from the Senate weeks, perhaps months from now. The process has long way to go. We shouldn't take away from the fact this is a significant accomplishment for the President and for house Republicans.

BLITZER: Steven Moore, whatever emerges from the Senate, it's going to have a struggle in the House of Representatives, right? Because presumably the Senate's going to ease up on some of the more conservative elements?

STEVEN MOORE, CNN SENIOR ECONOMICS ANALYST: Good point. Here we go again, right? We could have another -- a more kind of moderate bill that comes back to the house outside of the Senate. And then you get the same debate, you know, within the Republican party and the Republican caucus that you've just seen that got resolved. This is a heavy lift. I agree with Gloria and other and this is going to be tough. I feel confident they'll get it done. We can't get tax reform done until this gets done.

BLITZER: That will be a big struggle. Tax reform, tax cuts. As the President said these will be the largest tax cuts in American history, even bigger than what passed during the Ronald Reagan administration. I think Steve Israel, and you were a leader, Democratic leader in the House of Representatives, you have to admit the President of the United States, he got personally involved. He worked really hard in squeezing a lot of these Republican lawmakers to vote in favor of this legislation. I assume you'll give him credit for that?

STEVE ISRAEL, FORMER REPRESENTATIVE: Oh, absolutely. He deserved credit for the fact that the house passed this bill. He deserves this photo op. They are capturing a moment right now at the white house. But do you know who else is capturing the moment? The Democratic Congressional campaign committee. And Democratic media consultants. I watch that ceremony and I heard the President of the United States say, and I quote, premiums will be coming down. And deductibles will be coming down. And my former colleagues at the Democratic Congressional campaign committee. And Democratic media consultants. I watch that ceremony and I heard the President of the United States say, and I quote, premiums will be coming down. And deductibles will be coming down. And my former colleagues at the DWC, so I believe that the midterm election effectively began on this day, despite the fact that they have not passed and signed into law any kind of replacement for the affordable care act.

BLITZER: Jen Psaki, you worked in the Obama white house. How worried are you that the President's legacy achievement, the affordable care act, Obamacare, as the vice President just said, this is the beginning of the end of Obamacare. How worried are you that Obamacare, the affordable care act could go away?

JEN PSAKI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Well, he also said that premiums will go down and this bill will be better for people with preexisting conditions. I don't think you can find a single healthcare expert who agrees with that? I think, Wolf, the day after the election in November if you would have told me that the Obamacare was still alive in May I wouldn't have believed you. I think there's a lot more steps to go here, which your panel has been talking about. It is not just the Senate. Members are going to go home to their districts tonight and they're going to be met by a fierce and motivated opposition to their vote on this bill. Senators who are going to be considering this for the next couple of months will be met with the same thing. So, people are watching this very closely. I'm not too worried yet, but I think that this is a time where people are really going to be need to be out there and active and showing up at town hall also. I expect that is exactly what will happen.

MOORE: Can I add one thing to that, Wolf?

BLITZER: Go ahead.

MOORE: A quick point. You know, the historic nature of this vote in the house today is that -- you know, I have been in politics 30 some years. This is the first time I can remember when a major entitlement program was rolled back. Congress loves to play Santa Claus, but rolling back some of the benefits is a difficult thing. You know, we always talk about the fact that the entitlements are what is bankrupting our country. I think it is a courageous vote for a lot of these Republicans.

BLITZER: Well, it hasn't been rolled back yet. It is the initial vote in the house. Hold on a second. Still got to be rolled back in the Senate. Steve Israel, make your point.

ISRAEL: The hypocrisy is often stunning. In order to punt the bill to the Senate just supported an $8 billion addition expenditure for a social program. It is a program I would support. I believe preexisting conditions should be covered. But I don't want to hear the freedom caucus members talk about being deficit hawks. BLITZER: Lanhee Chen, go ahead.

CHEN: Well, look, I mean on that this bill will cut the deficit, so obviously, the bill is responsive to the desire of deficit hawks to get control overspending. I think it is the case, by the way, that this bill does provide a number of protections for people with preexisting conditions. We talk about the $8 billion. We forget the underlying billion offers $100 billion over ten years to states to help them cover people with preexisting.

[15:55:00] BLITZER: Hold on, the President is speaking again.

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: I even want to thank the media. Thank you all very much, everybody. Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you.


BLITZER: Well, even thanking the media, John King. We don't hear that often.

HENDERSON: May never hear it again.

KING: If you need any proof the President is in a good mood today, you just got it right there. It is interesting. To the point and the excellent panel just talking about this, look, the issue since the affordable care act, Obamacare, was passed it has been a Republican friend in three of the four elections since, two mid-term, two Presidential years. 2012 President Obama was reelected but in 2010, 2014 and 2016 Republicans used this issue to their advantage. I think the question on the table today, even though we don't know the finish line, does it become a law or did they just pass something through the house, is now that they've voted on this under a Republican President, now that they had the big event that Steve Israel is exactly right will be in a lot of Democratic ads against Republicans pretty quickly, does the dynamic flip? Obamacare has been a Republican asset in electoral politics. Now does it become -- does Trump care or this vote become a Democratic asset?

BLITZER: I will be back in an hour in the situation room. I want to throw it to Brooke Baldwin.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you so much. I have my panel sitting with me. Jeff Zeleny, just to you as we were all sitting here listening to the President and him allowing these other people to speak in the rose garden, I don't know if I ever heard the word deductible come out of President Trump's mouth.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Certainly not. Certainly not in the run-up to this. He has been working the phones privately and talking privately about this, but even at his so-called healthcare rallies in Louisville and Nashville I was at he rarely talked about it. What he said today, said premiums will start to go down. He made a promise, and that sound bite, those words will be played back again and again and again. He will be measured by those words politically speaking going forward here. So, I think that it was akin to President Obama saying, if you like your doctor, you can keep it. It is a promise that President might like to make, I'm not sure he can make it.

BALDWIN: He did say, Tammy, he talked about deductibles going down and premiums going down. You're in the weeds on all of this. Fact check that for me.

TAMMY LUHBY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the premiums will go down for some people, probably younger people, people who have more income, but a lot of people they will be up for. Low income people, older Americans. The insurers lobbying group sent an e-mail with their reaction. They said that the bill needs important improvements to better protect low and moderate income families. So, there's a lot that needs to be done. Plus, I have spoken to a lot of insurers. Usually premiums and deductibles don't go both down at the same time. It will be very difficult for insurers to do this. So, we'll see what happens.

BALDWIN: Thus, Jeff's point about cut the sound bite and play it over and over and over again. To you, sir, on how the Democrats are salivating over how they want to cut these ads to swing through in the midterms?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: It is just like we're watching the mirror image of where we were in the fall of 2009, when this vote was taken on the house floor and Nancy Pelosi with a Democratic controlled house and the Democrats had the Senate and the presidency and they got it through by the skin of their teeth, a two-vote margin, and the Republicans started immediately plotting their path back on this issue. Now it is just happening and switching -- you could take Paul Ryan's floor speech today and substitute Nancy Pelosi in 2009. It is just astonishing to see the role reversal. We are 550 day from the November 2018 midterm elections, and it begins today. This is the starting gun to what is going to be yet another election cycle where healthcare will be front and center, the politics of healthcare, but this time the roles will be reversed.

ZELENY: One thing the President was telling people I'm told, if you vote for this I will have your back. I think he will be out there campaigning for him. It is a test for him, and is he going to lose the house like President Obama did in the mid-terms back in 2010 and then in 2014.

LUHBY: There are two things that come up before the election. The premium prices for 2018 plans and the premium prices for 2019 plans all will be available in early November.

CHALIAN: Unaffected by what we just saw today, the premium prices based on existing law, right?

LUHBY: Depends on what happens in the bill. There's a lot of uncertainty and insurers are very concerned.

ZELENY: What's the effective date, if this is signed into law, which is also a huge if. We should pause. The Senate needs to weigh in and there's no sense of urgency on this. [16:00:00] [BALDWIN: On that note, have you ever seen a Rose Garden

ceremony for a bill that passed one chamber?