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Senate Plans To Write Its Own Health Care Bill; U.S. Military Member Killed, Two Wounded In Somalia; Trump's First Overseas Trip, Vatican, Israel, Saudi Arabia. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired May 5, 2017 - 09:00   ET


[09:00:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Well, look, it's funny until people start losing their coverage. That's why it's got to get ironed out. The Senate, very important to watch.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Time for CNN NEWSROOM with John Berman. Happy Friday.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: You guys have a great weekend. You have both earned it. Thank you very, very much.

We got a lot of breaking news this morning, so let's get to it.

The breaking news this Friday, the lowest unemployment rate in 10 years, 4.4 percent. That is a headline and a good one for thousands of people. A brand new jobs report out just moments ago found that the U.S. economy added 211,000 jobs last month. That is well above expectations.

I'm joined now by CNN's Chief Business Correspondent, star of "EARLY START," who always exceeds expectations, Christine Romans. This is a good jobs report.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It is a good jobs number, and it's double the jobs created. More than double the jobs created that economists have been expecting.

Let me show you what the unemployment rate looks like first because this is really kind of the headline grabber for me -- 4.4 percent for the unemployment rate. It has been trending lower since 2009, but now you've got a milestone here. It is now the lowest in 10 years.

May 2007 was the last time you had 4.4 percent unemployment. May 2007 was before we knew what was going to happen in the economy, subprime mortgages, the housing market, an economy that blows up, a recession, and a global economic crisis. So that is a real milestone here.

Let me show you the jobs created and what the chart looks like for that, 200,011 net new jobs created. The expectation had been for more like 190. And look at March. For some reason, employers were a little more cautious in March. That was about 79,000 jobs created, but bounced back in April, John.

BERMAN: With a vengeance. Where are the new jobs? ROMANS: We see jobs created in the financial services sector. That's

banking, that's insurance. Those are office jobs. They tend to pay a little bit more money. In health care, John, 37,000 new jobs in health care.

We went back, crunched these numbers. Since ObamaCare was signed into law, 1.5 million health care jobs have been created. Many of those jobs on campuses, Eds and meds, you know, university campuses where they have big teaching hospitals.

They know that there are millions of new paying customers in the health care system because fewer people are uninsured, and they have been adding extensively there. That would be something to watch in the health care debate.

Also manufacturing saw 6,000 jobs created. The last few months, there has been a pick up in manufacturing jobs. This time last year, you were losing manufacturing jobs. This year, they're picking up.

And many economists are saying that's because of a little more enthusiasm because of President Trump's policies, at least his pro- manufacturing in America policies. So they might be ramping up a little ahead of that.

BERMAN: Do we know anything about wages?

ROMANS: Wages only 2.5 percent. And I had wanted to see that a little bit more. You know, I'd like to get that back to 3 percent or so, but just not there yet. So wages have been -- 2.5 percent is not bad, but this particular month-on-month wage growth was the weakest since August.

BERMAN: And just a quick point on this, when we talk about job creation and job growth, when you have unemployment at 4.4 percent, that is around or near what we call full employment. You can't get much lower than that.

ROMANS: So, no, you can't. And there are five or 6 million people who are sort of the left behinds of the financial crisis who haven't found their place back in the economy. There are also five or 6 million open jobs today, right? So there is a disconnect between skills and education and what companies want or where they can place them. So that is a big policy issue, I think, for this White House.

And I know many of the business leaders who are talking to the President, who are sitting at those round tables, they are telling him, Mr. President, we have open manufacturing jobs today. We have open jobs today but we're not finding the right skill set of the workers. So that is a policy question, I think, that will have to be answered if the President wants to get his 25 million jobs added over the next 10 years.

BERMAN: Right. Although, I keep on checking Twitter to see if he has said anything about the jobs report. I assume we are minutes or seconds away from the White House taking credit or claiming credit for this. ROMANS: Oh, you think he'll take credit for it?

BERMAN: I think he might. I think he might. Christine Romans, thank you very, very much.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

BERMAN: We'll see you again in just a little bit.

Paging Dr. McConnell. That is, Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader. It is all up to him because now it's all in the Senate's hands after the House passed a measure to repeal and replace ObamaCare, a bill that even some Republicans admit has some serious flaws. Some pre-existing conditions, if you will. But in this case, the President is guaranteeing the pre-existing conditions will get full treatment.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Senate is looking forward to getting it. Mitch McConnell knows how to do things.

Well, it could change a little bit. It could get maybe even better.


BERMAN: All right. The President still in his victory lap or maybe his victory round of golf at his club in Bedminster, New Jersey, but we are going to Capitol Hill where, despite the sense of mission accomplished that we saw yesterday, the fight is really just beginning today.

CNN's M.J. Lee on Capitol Hill. The Senate's turn, M.J.

M.J. LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: That's right, John. The past few months have felt very long and painful for House Republicans. Well, this process just got a whole lot longer.

[09:05:01] Here is what happens next. The bill that was passed in the House yesterday, that now moves over to the Senate. The problem is that Senate Republicans have already basically indicated that they're not really interested in the bill that the House passed, at least not in its current form.

We know that there is already a working group of senators, including moderate senators and conservative senators, who are trying to figure out what could actually get through the Senate. Now, keep in mind that they are using the budget reconciliation process. So this means that everything in their bill needs to comply with the board rule so that makes things even more complicated.

And the bottom line, John, is that whatever comes out of the Senate is likely to look pretty different from what came out of the House yesterday. And the two sides, at some point, will have to hammer out their differences. And this means that before President Trump sees anything on his desk, it could be months and months. Now, having said all of that, we should talk about the bill that the

House passed yesterday because it fundamentally gets rid of some of the basics of ObamaCare. So for example, the subsidies that are in ObamaCare, those are out. They're replaced by refundable tax credits. The individual and employer mandates, those are also gone, replaced by penalties for people who let their coverage lapse. Older Americans could be charged more for coverage under this new plan, and Medicaid expansion also goes away by 2020.

Now, John, the one issue that became the biggest political fast point in the House is the issue of pre-existing conditions. And here is what House Republicans after a lot of fighting and a lot of debating settled on. They settled on letting states ask for waivers. You know, waivers that could allow them to not cover pre-existing conditions.

And this is such a big deal because so many people have pre-existing conditions. That list is very, very long. We are talking about everything from cancer to diabetes to medical disorders or mental disorders. So this is a very controversial issue in the House. They really struggle to deal with this. And now the Senate will have to figure out how to deal with pre-existing conditions all over again.

BERMAN: All right. M.J. Lee for us on Capitol Hill. Let's go to the political side of things. Let's talk about the policy side of things, the medical side. Joining me now, CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, great to see you. M.J. just ran through, you know, what's in, what's changing, what's out. You know, what's out, individual mandate would be out in the House bill. Essential benefits would be changing or out. Pre-existing conditions, changing or out. And more choice. People should get more choice in purchasing insurance, that's in.

So this effects everybody to a certain extent, but who does it affect most?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it certainly effects people who utilize the health care system the most. And this is sort of one of those points, John. That, for a lot of us, you know, we still feel sort of a little insulated from this whole issue if you are someone who doesn't go to the doctor much or you don't go to the hospital very much.

There's a 117 million in this country who have some sort of chronic illness. This is the most important issue in their lives right now. And so people who are older, people who are sicker are going to be affected the most because they can be charged more.

And I just want to make one quick point to this thing you raised about the essential health benefits. You can give people more choice if you say that health care plans don't have to have essential health benefits anymore. Insurers can say, well, that means we can now offer, you know, skinny plans or really pared down plans.

The problem with those sorts of plans, though, is that, for a lot of them, they don't cover many things, including things like in- hospitalization. If you're 25 years old, John, and you think you are immortal but you get in an accident and you need inpatient hospitalization and your plan doesn't cover it, all of a sudden you don't really have a health care plan. So, yes, more choice, but those plans are really cheap and useless, though, as well.

BERMAN: No, that's a great point. And you get the same situation when you talk about lowering premiums.

GUPTA: That's right.

BERMAN: One way that anyone who takes a basic economic class, lower premiums if you stop covering sick people as much. If you don't treat or cover sick people as much, premiums will go down. It will happen that way. It's just a choice that, as a society, you know, people need to go in with open eyes before they make.

We talk about pre-existing conditions, Sanjay, and that's become the hot point of the debate here.


BERMAN: I was at a charity that deals with sick kids, and the person running this charity told me she was terrified about what happens to these sick kids going forward because they will all have a pre- existing condition throughout their lives. High-risk pools, do we know the history of how well or not well they work?

GUPTA: Yes. I mean, that's a good point because we do have some data here. We're not sort of dealing in total conjecture when it comes to high-risk pools. They have been tried before. And, you know, they are what they sound like, right?

You're taking the people who are the highest risk, who have the biggest health care concerns, and lumping them all in one pool. If you think that's going to be expensive, you're right. Obviously, that is more expensive.

The concern has been, you know, how much does it really cost? And what they found in the past was that states that have tried really could not afford it, and they dismantled these high-risk pools because they were very, very difficult to maintain. Both for the people administering it and for the patients as well, really expensive, didn't offer as much in terms of health care.

[09:10:10] And, again, John, these are people who actually utilize the health care system.


GUPTA: These are people who actually need the health care system. So they expect about 5 percent of people who are on the individual market to go to a high-risk pool. That's an estimate. But even if you took that low estimate, it would still be hundreds of billions of dollars that it would cost, not the $138 billion roughly that is set aside for this now. BERMAN: And just because you have a pre-existing condition right now

doesn't mean that your life or your insurance will change. Explain that aspect for us.

GUPTA: Yes. So there is no longer guaranteed protections for those with pre-existing conditions. What that means is the states now get to decide. The states can apply for a waiver. Which if they apply for a waiver, that means they can -- if somebody lets their insurance lapse for more than 63 days, they can then charge those people a higher premium.

Now, you say, well, look, just don't let your insurance lapse for 63 days, right? The problem is that 30 million people last year let their insurance lapse for close to three months because it is expensive, because they lost their job, because of a variety of reasons. So a lot of people would suddenly be penalized, you know, who would be diverted to this high-risk pool, no longer protected against pre-existing conditions.

BERMAN: No. And people with pre-existing conditions often go in and out of jobs.

GUPTA: Sure.

BERMAN: Just like people often go in and out of Medicaid. So lapsing is something that does and will happen.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks so much.


BERMAN: The facts here and the details do matter so much going forward so we're going to try to stay on this.

I'm joined now by a politician who will be at the center of this discussion going forward, Senator Bill Cassidy, a Republican from Louisiana, himself opposition.

Senator, thanks so much for being with us.


BERMAN: And now I know this is a hypothetical and before you tell me you're not going to answer or decide on a hypothetical, I do think it matters so people understand how things will act going forward. If you had to vote up or down on the House bill today, how would you vote?

CASSIDY: Well, it's not a hypothetical because I will not be. The Senate will write its own bill, that's clear. Mitch McConnell has made that clear, and others in leadership have made that clear. So we'll be writing our own bill addressing some of the issues that you and Sanjay spoke to.

BERMAN: So since, you know, I won't get an answer to that, let's break this down because you said that you want a final bill that fulfills President Trump's promises to lower premiums, maintain coverage, and protect those with pre-existing conditions. So let's break this into parts. Does the House bill, as it stands now, sufficiently protect people with pre-existing conditions?

CASSIDY: We don't have a score in the House bill, but let's just speak to the positive because I think, if we focus on the House bill, we are totally ignoring what the process is going to be. The process is that, moving forward, the Senate will write its own bill and attempt to address those concerns that you have laid out, that President Trump laid out in the campaign.

I and Susan Collins and four other co-sponsors have come up with what we call the Cassidy-Collins Bill, the Patient Freedom Act. We take care of people with pre-existing conditions. We do it by expanding the risk pool so that those who are sicker, if you will, are in a pool of those who are younger and healthier. It works. That's how every big risk pool does it.

We have a plan on how to address that. I personally will be working forward to implement that plan.

BERMAN: And so, again, let's talk about, as you put it, the positive then. Let's go down that road. You have proposed a bill along with Susan Collins. I went to her website, which has a clear explanation of some of the promises that are made.

She says, "This proposal keeps essential consumer protections, including prohibitions on annual and lifetime limits, prohibition of pre-existing conditions exclusions." Again, just so we understand where we're headed, in your mind, do you think allowing states to get waivers from the community rating, does that achieve your promise of protecting people with pre-existing conditions?

CASSIDY: If you have a big pool, think about Exxon Mobile, which probably has about 50,000 employees, and they are all in this Exxon Mobile health care plan with their families, spouse, and children. If one person of 20 people get liver transplants or other expensive illnesses, it doesn't matter. Within that big 50,000 risk pool, the expense that is, you know, associated with a very expensive procedure is spread out among the many, the younger, the healthier.

Now, if we can expand the risk pool, we take care of those with pre- existing conditions. I do think that we should take care of those with pre-existing conditions. There should be guaranteed issue, if you will. And the way you adjust that cost is, again, to absorb it in a large pool, just as I just described for Exxon Mobile.

BERMAN: Guaranteeing coverage or some kind of plan or they can't be excluded just because they had pre-existing conditions is different than, as you well know, guaranteeing an affordable rate. Is the idea that people with pre-existing conditions could be charged higher premiums than other folks, is that a nonstarter for you as you look forward?

CASSIDY: In the Patient Freedom Act, we actually allow -- have community rating, if you will. Those of a certain age would all be charged the same amount of money. So we addressed that fact.

BERMAN: OK, so --

CASSIDY: And so we addressed that fact, again -- when you say nonstarter, that's kind of an absolute. For example, Maine has an invisible high risk pool. Dr. Gupta spoke about how they never work. In Maine, this one actually worked pretty well.

But somebody was in an insurance plan and they actually didn't know they were in a high risk pool because what the high risk pool did, it came in the backside of their insurance plan and kind of supported the patient's extra needs within a standard insurance plan. Now, whenever you give me an absolute, there always has to be a context.

BERMAN: I understand. As you well know, sir, there are no pure absolutes in politics, but it does sound like what you are saying is that given your (inaudible), people would be more or less guaranteed the same rates, community ratings as people with pre-existing conditions or not. I think that's what I'm getting for you. If I could cover one other point.

CASSIDY: Absolutely. Absolutely.

BERMAN: OK. Because the House bill, we don't know whether that's the case. We don't know because it hasn't been rated by the CBO. It may be that people with pre-existing conditions can be charged a lot, right?

CASSIDY: Theoretically, yes, but we don't know because we don't have a CBO score. We will have a CBO score before we vote on the bill in the Senate.

BERMAN: Which is a luxury that you will have which no member of the House had yesterday, which is notable and I know you've been critical of. So you're not in any way responsible for that. The "Wall Street Journal" reported something very interesting about the House bill.

It basically said that there is a back door out of guarantees, including employer plan guarantees of no ceiling on lifetime limits, no ceiling on annual payouts. In other words, they could cap how much they give to their customers each year and over a lifetime.

This is something again that you have been very, very concerned about. Could you support a bill? Let's not talk in absolutes, but in general terms, could you support a bill that allows insurance companies to cap their pay-outs to customers?

CASSIDY: As you present that, I ask does it pass the Jimmy Kimmel test. Was the child born with a congenital heart disease be able to get everything he or she would need in that first year of life?

I want it to pass the Jimmy Kimmel test. So simple answer, I want to make sure and the bill accomplishes this, that if a child is born and has Tetralogy of Fallot, I think that's what this child had that they would receive all these services, even if they go over a certain amount. So the simple answer, I want to make sure folks get the care they need.

BERMAN: Senator, it sounds like you have your work cut out for you to craft something new, and apparently very, very different than what the House has proposed. We'll let you get to work. Senator Bill Cassidy from Louisiana. Thanks so much, Doctor. Appreciate it.

CASSIDY: Thank you, John.

BERMAN: All right, we have breaking news out of Somalia where a U.S. service member has been killed. Two more wounded. We will have the very latest on that in just a moment.

Plus, President Trump with a plan he says to push U.S. interest abroad with a very unusual travel itinerary. The first foreign trip for a president unlike anything we have ever seen. Where is he going? We'll tell you in a moment.

Plus a new case of people being kicked off a plane. This time it involves children, very, very young children. Why the look of disbelief in this man's eyes? Next.



BERMAN: All right. We have breaking news this morning. We are just getting word of a U.S. military death in Somalia. This from the Pentagon right now. One service member killed. Two wounded. CNN's Barbara Starr working her sources has the latest for us. Barbara, what are you learning?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. This one service member and two wounded in action about 40 miles west of the Somali capital of Mogadishu. They were on a mission to advise and assist Somalia national troops, a very tough area they were in.

They believe the gunman that attacked them were a part of al-Shabaab. That is the terror group in Somalia that has pledged its allegiance to al-Qaeda. U.S. troops have been on the ground trying to help the Somalis go against the al-Shabaab group and it has been tough going.

This is the first combat death in Somalia we have heard of in some years, and this comes as the Trump administration is trying to beef up the U.S. military effort in Somalia, planning more air strikes, planning more ground missions.

It underscores how dangerous this kind of activity is for U.S. Special Forces. We have seen similar deaths in recent days, in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq -- John.

BERMAN: Notable this was a death in action showing the increased reach in efforts of the United States around the globe. Barbara Starr of the Pentagon, thanks so much.

All right, new this morning, we're learning where the president will go on his first overseas trip. It is an unusual itinerary for a president on his first foreign seas trip. He will go to Saudi Arabia, then Israel, then the Vatican.

I'm joined by CNN's senior White House correspondent, Jeff Zeleny. Jeff, why these three places and what is the significance?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, it is significant, particularly in that order, but the president has largely been a home body, and this is about to change at the end of this month.

But by going to Saudi Arabia he is trying to send the message that his America first agenda they talked so much also has a meaning overseas and abroad. He'll be meeting with a lot of leaders in the region.

But one thing that's different he will not be doing, I'm told, is giving a public speech. This is very much about private meetings with the leaders, you know, trying to have built his relationship and things.

[09:25:05]Interestingly, he is going to Israel. Eight years ago, President Obama had a similar itinerary, he went to Saudi Arabia, did not go to Israel, and that sort of set off his relationship in a very rocky way to say the least.

But this president is doing that. Of course, he has made big plans of moving the embassy. They are not going to do that on this trip, I do not believe, but certainly this will be a big moment for him as well.

BERMAN: Fascinating he's not going to give a major speech in either of those three places. In contrast on this foreign seas trip, what we normally see from presidents, usually it's Canada or Mexico. President Trump, I don't know if it was trade issues for whatever reason has foregone that and is going to the religious capitals of, you know, three of the world's greatest religions.

ZELENY: Exactly. So that is significant. But the fact he has not traveled abroad, we don't see a Mexico trip any time in the future. He of course has relations, but the Vatican interesting, during the campaign he called the pope disgraceful because the pope of course questioned the idea of building a wall. He said Christians build bridges, not walls. So Candidate Trump said that was disgraceful. So perhaps he will have a chance to revisit that at the end of this month.

BERMAN: I do not think he will call the pope disgraceful at the Vatican. Jeff Zeleny, do not go anywhere, we have a lot more to talk about, including Democrats. They were singing the goodbye song, which I am not going to do. Wait, listen.


BERMAN: Democrats cannot command the majority, but they can carry a tune. Are they right? Are Republicans in jeopardy because of their health care vote? That's next.