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GOP Health Care Bill Faces Critical Week; Senate Health Bill Slashes Medicaid; Intrigue Builds On Supreme Court's Last Day; Jordan Speith Wins Tenth PGA Title. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired June 26, 2017 - 05:00   ET



[05:00:04] SEN. RON JOHNSON (R), WISCONSIN: We should not be voting on this next week.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: They say they're going to fix health care, premiums are going to go down. There's no way the Republican bill brings down premiums.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: There's no way in God's earth that this bill should be passed this week.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We don't have too much of a choice because the alternative is the dead carcass of Obamacare.


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Dead carcass? The Republican health care bill facing a critical week. The Senate Republican leadership is pushing for a vote by Friday, and as early as today we could find out the true cost and real effects of the Senate health plan.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump now acknowledging that Russia meddled in the U.S. election and putting blame squarely on former President Barack Obama.

Good morning, and welcome to EARLY START. I hope you had a good weekend. I'm Alison Kosik.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. It's Monday, June 26th. It is 5:00 a.m. in the east.

Coming as soon as today the Congressional Budget Office's assessment of the Senate health care bill. That's the same CBO score that nearly scuttled the House version of Obamacare repeal and replace, and the Senate's 52 Republicans have an even narrower path to victory than their House colleagues.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can lose just two votes. At least five Republicans have already said they cannot support the bill in its current form and that's before the CBO score comes out.

BRIGGS: Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price is making sweeping promises to help get the bill across the finish line. Here's an example for -- he says that a deep cut to Medicaid, it's not really a cut.


TOM PRICE, SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: What I'm telling you is the system, the plan we have in place, would not allow individuals to fall through the cracks. We would not pull the rug out from anybody. We would not have individuals lose coverage that they want for themselves and for their family. We want to make certain that health care is available to all Americans.


KOSIK: Let's get to White House correspondent, Athena Jones, for the latest.

ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alison and Dave. This could prove to be another monumental week in the Republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare. With Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell determined to hold a vote on the Senate's version of the bill this week.

The problem is that at least right now there are enough Republican senators, who have expressed opposition to the bill to effectively kill it. Several other Republican senators have also expressed concerns. Conservatives are worried that it doesn't go far enough to undo Obamacare.

Meanwhile, more moderate senators are worried that it may go too far. That it could leave the most needy and the most vulnerable behind, particularly because of the changes to Medicaid. The cuts to the Medicaid program that are included in this bill.

Now we could see the score from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office as soon as today. That will let senators know the impact of this bill. How much will it cost, how will it impact the deficit, how many people could lose coverage under the Senate's proposal.

Those numbers are going to be very important for senators trying to make a decision about the bill. I should mention that president Trump has been working the phones himself. He's spoken with Senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul to try to get them on board.

So a lot to watch this week as they try to get this bill, this promise that Republicans have been running on for the last seven years. They're going to try to get this bill across the finish line. We'll be watching closely to see what happens -- Alison, Dave.

KOSIK: Athena Jones, thanks very much.

The president actually confirmed Sunday that, yes, he did call the house health care bill mean. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: Mean, that was my term because I want to see -- I want to see -- and I speak from the heart, that's what I want to see. I want to see a bill with heart.


KOSIK: However, some critics say the Senate bill also lacks heart. That's because it makes the deepest cuts to Medicaid in 50 years. Medicaid is the nation's biggest health insurer covering more than 70 million low-income Americans.

And the current proposal slashes funding by at least $800 billion over the next ten years. How does it do this? There are a few ways. You see them there. It ends the expansion program, reduces the growth rate of funding, and sends states a fixed amount of money instead of leaving it open-ended.

Each state's funding will be based on its historical funding for each group. That includes children. It includes disabled adults and the elderly. Republican lawmakers, though, claim the current system encourages states to overspend on Medicaid.

However, most Americans actually view the program quite favorably. President Trump promises that no one with Medicaid is going to lose coverage. However, the Congressional Budget Office estimate of the House bill found 14 million Americans will.

So the question is, what will the Senate version do? We'll find out when the CBO releases that score this week, possibly as early as today.

BRIGGS: Big day. To help break it all down, let's bring in Zachary Wolf, digital director for CNN politics with us live from Washington. Good morning to you, sir.


[05:05:02]BRIGGS: All right, so a couple of claims we want to talk about Tom Price, what he just said, combined with Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey regarding the Senate plan. Here's Toomey on CBS Sunday.


SEN. PAT TOOMEY (R), PENNSYLAVANIA: I have to strongly disagree with the characterization that we're somehow ending the Medicaid expansion. In fact, quite the contrary. The Senate bill will codify and make permanent the expansion and will have the federal government pay the lion's share of the cost. Remember, Obamacare created a new category of eligibility. Working age, able-bodied adults with no dependents for the first time became eligible for Medicaid if their income is below 138 percent of the poverty level. We'll continue that eligibility. No one loses coverage.


BRIGGS: OK. So there's Toomey, Zach. And again, Tom Price, HHS secretary, said we would not have individuals lose coverage they want for themselves and their family. Does this have echoes of you can keep your doctor, and can they back up those claims based on your read of the Senate bill?

WOLF: Yes. Like you -- it does have echoes of you can keep your doctor. I was also thinking it has echoes of Republicans accusing Democrats of cutting Medicare back when they passed Obamacare. You know, they were trying to carve out, to control the cost curve and make Medicare cheaper going forward.

Now it's Medicaid, and it's Democrats accusing Republicans. So the shoe's kind of on the other foot there. But it -- it's hard to figure out exactly how you ensure the same number of people, and get the same level of coverage if you're carving this much money out of the program. So it is, I think, a fundamental restructuring.

That's what's interesting here, a fundamental restructuring of Medicaid. It would change the way it works and that's really the bottom line. But you know, doing that is going to be very difficult. You saw Pat Toomey there. You know, opposition to this -- it will be interesting to see if Democrats can galvanize around it and how the country reacts over this next week or so.

KOSIK: OK, so Zach, with the release of the bill, I did some light reading. Here's the bill. A little poolside light reading, 142 pages of it. I want to know, when is a cut not a cut? This is really -- has been a big discussion since the paperwork actually came out.

You've got "Investors Business Daily" saying the cuts you're seeing aren't really a cut, at least not in the sense that most people think is a spending cut. That instead, you would see spending grow at a slightly slower rate.

But in the end, isn't it true that what's going to winds up happening is coverage -- to wind up happening is that coverage is going to be less. We heard Kellyanne Conway go to the talk show circuit on Sunday. Listen to what she said.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: These are not cuts to Medicaid, George. This slows the rate for the future, and it allows governors more flexibility with Medicaid dollars. They're closest to the people in need. If are you currently in Medicaid, if you became a Medicaid recipient through the Obamacare expansion, you are grandfathered in. We're talking about in the future.


KOSIK: OK, Zach. What is this bill saying? Is it saying these cuts are cuts like you and I would think? Help us flesh this out.

WOLF: Yes. It's a good point. I mean, is a cut to future spending something that you don't have yet, is that really a cut, or is it -- you know, it's -- it's the Rorschach test of this bill right now. Do you feel like cutting future spending to Medicaid is a cut, or do you feel like, you know, fundamentally restructuring it is -- is a good idea. That's what it's going to come down to, I think.

BRIGGS: Of course, Mitch McConnell is master of the Senate rules and of wrangling the votes. Right now, it is as "The Daily News" says, a bit of a revolt. Five are nos. You've got Susan Collins concerned, Lisa Murkowski has concerns, even more. How significant, Zach, is the CBO score today in getting those 50 plus Mike Pence?

WOLF: I think it's going to be really important, but you have to have people who said they don't support the bill change their mind based on a CBO score. I'm not sure that's going to happen. If you said this bill doesn't work for me, I'm not sure how a CBO score makes you change your mind, ultimately they're probably going to have to change this bill somehow to get some of those conservatives back on board. The math is very easy. They can afford to lose two senators, no Democrats will support them, they can afford to lose two senators, and five said they won't support it. There it is. They need three more.

KOSIK: Very quickly, I've got to ask, do you think Mitch McConnell will actually pull the bill because of an early indication of just not enough support?

WOLF: You know, you would think so, but they went ahead with the vote on the House side. So it's possible they could do here, too.

BRIGGS: They want to do it by Friday. Zach Wolf, we'll check back with you about 30 minutes. Want to ask you about Russian interference in the 2016 election which Trump now for the first time appears to acknowledge on Twitter. Thank you, sir.

[05:10:02] KOSIK: OK, up next, a crucial day for the Supreme Court. In just a few hours, we'll hear whether the court is taking up President Trump's travel ban case and whether Justice Anthony Kennedy is retiring.

BRIGGS: And terrifying moments for 350 passengers on an international flight. Shaking violently for nearly two hours. The cause still a mystery. We'll show you more of this video and how it ended next.


KOSIK: There's a whole lot of intrigue building this morning at the Supreme Court as the high court reaches the last day of its current term that is today. Two big questions are looming -- will the high court take up President Trump's travel ban case and will 80-year-old Justice Anthony Kennedy retire? CNN's Ariane De Vouge has more.

ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: All eyes are on Justice Anthony Kennedy. Sources say he's seriously considering retirement, but no one knows if it will come as early as this term. It would be a big change for the court and the country.

[05:15:06]He's played such a central role on the court. He's voted with liberals on abortion access, affirmative action. He's voted with conservatives on gun rights, campaign finance, Bush v Gore. If President Trump gets this vacancy, he would really solidify the conservative majority for years to come. He would replace a centrist with a conservative. That could really change the court. Today we could also hear about the travel ban. Lower courts have blocked it. The administration is asking for two things -- allow it to go into effect immediately and hear arguments next term. We could hear about these issues as early as this morning -- Alison, Dave.

BRIGGS: Ariane De Vouge, thank you.

Take a look at this terrifying video. More than 350 passengers on this Air Asia X Flight from Perth, Australia, to Malaysia enduring this violent shaking for two hours. One passenger said there was a loud bang about an hour into the flight. The plane shuddered during the entire trip back to Perth. He also said the pilot asked them to pray twice, and they were told to hold the "brace" position during landing. Not clear what caused the issue with the jet's Rolls Royce engines.

KOSIK: All right, let's keep that theme of terrifying video. How about this -- a teenage girl making a frightening fall at a six flags amusement park in upstate New York. Thankfully she's on the mend this morning. This cell phone footage showing the 14-year-old girl dropping from the ride on Saturday night.

Lucky for her, everybody kind of gathered below. These good Samaritans spotting her dangling. They sprang into action. They broke the girl's fall after she plunged 25 feet down. Thankfully, the young lady not seriously injured.

Though it's still not clear exactly how she found herself in this precarious position. Local authorities say everything on the ride appeared to be in working order, but clearly something went awry.

BRIGGS: We need some more information. Why exactly decide to fall off a chair -- anyway, we'll search for that answer.

Up next, one small step for man, one giant leap for Tim Tebow mania. Details in the "Bleacher Report." Andy Scholes on set with us.

KOSIK: Good morning. So happy to have you.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good to see you. Happy to be here.

KOSIK: A handshake.



BRIGGS: Jordan Spieth joining Tiger Woods as the only two golfers to win ten tournaments before their 24th birthday. The way Spieth did it was unreal.

KOSIK: Andy Scholes is here in the flesh with this morning's "Bleacher Report." Good morning. BRIGGS: I can't believe it. I've watched it 20 times.

SCHOLES: To make this shot on any hole would be -- would be amazing, right? To do it in the playoff hole to win a tournament, just incredible. And I'll tell you what, Jordan Spieth, he was in trouble. In the bunker on the first playoff hole with the annual burger at the championship. Comes through with the shot of his career to this point. Holding it out to win the tournament. He throws his clubs. His caddy threw the rake. They chest bump. The crowd going completely nuts. Spieth said the whole moment, it was surreal.


JORDAN SPIETH, WINS 10TH PGA TOUR TITLE: He was screaming, and it made me want to scream louder and then he jumped and fortunately, we didn't like high five jump. We both went kind of for the -- for the little side bump. But it was cool. I mean, the ground was shaking. It was so loud.


SCHOLES: All right. Tim Tebow is one step closer to playing in the major leagues. The Mets organization promoting Tebow to high a-ball where he will play for the Port St. Lucie Mets. The 29-year-old is hitting just 222 this season with 69 strikeouts in 64 games. The Mets' GM says, Dave, he does see improvement. Tebow had been playing in South Carolina, but now he's heading home to Florida where he, of course, once was a star quarterback.

BRIGGS: Also getting big seven errors as well.

SCHOLES: Finally, Ice Cube's victory league tipping off yesterday with the season opening, I was taking it in in Brooklyn. I have to say, it was entertaining. For background, big three basketball is three on three. Half-court, two, three, and four-point shots. The two teams play first to 60 points which leads to fantastic finishes. The majority of the players there, former NBA household names. And I asked a few including Allen Iverson, how big do they think three-on- three basketball can get.


ALLEN IVERSON, BIG3 PLAYER: It can be mega -- I mean, if what I saw out there is any indication, it can be -- it can be great. I'm definitely looking forward, and I'm definitely looking forward to this event right here for years to come. I think it's only going to get better.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a great game. This is showing fans that this is a sport that people are going to like, and it's going to stay here. I'm glad my team was the first to win it.


SCHOLES: We'll see three-on-three basketball in the Summer Olympics in 2020. There were lots of NBA stars in the crowd. Nice crowd, over 15,000 on hand. A lot of people for the NBA players actually here for the NBA's inaugural awards show tonight on TNT, 9:00 Eastern. We'll find out who wins the MVP.

BRIGGS: All right, have you ever seen -- I've got to get back to Spieth -- a rake throw by his caddy?

SCHOLES: The whole thing was incredible. It was a wire-to-wire win for Spieth. I imagine the range of emotions for him and the caddy thinking they would lose and ending up winning in that fashion. You should have been there.

BRIGGS: I should been there. Mr. Scholes, thank you, sir.

KOSIK: All right, it is a critical week for the GOP health care bill as -several Republicans are expressing major concern about the bill and the Trump administration is making big promises.


[11:25:07] PRICE: We want to make certain that health care is available to all Americans.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't have the feedback from constituencies who haven't had enough time to review the Senate bill. We should not be voting on this this next week.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They say they're going to fix health care, premiums are going to go down. There's no way the Republican bill brings down premiums.

SANDERS: There's no way on God's earth that this bill ought to be passed this week.

TRUMP: We don't have too much of a choice because the alternative is the dead carcass of Obamacare.


KOSIK: The Republican health care bill facing a critical week as Senate Republican leadership is pushing for a vote by Friday. And as early as today, we could find out the true cause and effects of the Senate health plan.

BRIGGS: President Trump now acknowledging that Russia meddled in the U.S. election and putting blame squarely on former President Barack Obama.

Welcome back to EARLY START, everybody. I'm Dave Briggs.

KOSIK: Good morning, I'm Alison Kosik. It's 30 minutes past the hour.