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Can Obamacare Survive Without Individual Mandate?; Moore Says He's Being Persecuted In Open Letter To Sean Hannity; President Trump Has "Watershed" Moment During Speech. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired November 16, 2017 - 07:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[07:30:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Senator Johnson, the same promise as always. When you've got the numbers, when you want to make the case about why this is good for the American people, you've got time right here.

SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI), MEMBER, BUDGET COMMITTEE, FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE, CHAIRMAN, HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE: Well, hopefully, the president will help me get that information and I'll come on in there with our -- with your WonderBoard one more time.

CUOMO: Let's get it on. Take care -- Alisyn.

JOHNSON: Have a good day.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: He loves the WonderBoard. He even gave it a new name.

Now, to the health care battle. Can Obamacare survive without the individual mandate? The man who runs one of the largest health care exchanges tells us, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAMEROTA: Senate Republicans could cripple Obamacare with a proposal in their latest tax plan to eliminate the individual mandate. Can Obamacare survive without it?

Joining us now is Peter Lee. He runs the nation's second-largest health care exchange in California.

Peter, great to have you here in the studio.

PETER LEE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COVERED CALIFORNIA: Great to be here.

CAMEROTA: What's the answer to that? Can Obamacare survive without the individual mandate?

LEE: Well, the individual mandate is really part of the fabric of the Affordable Care Act and the thing that it's about is actually encouraging people to shop.

It's not about the penalty, it's about when people think they might get a penalty, find out how affordable it can be. Pulling it out, a lot of state's individual markets will probably collapse. [07:35:02] CAMEROTA: That's interesting.

You say, from where you sit, California has been a huge success.

LEE: Yes.

CAMEROTA: Obamacare -- the Affordable Care Act has worked there, but you say things are about to get ugly. What does that mean?

LEE: Well, it -- things are working great in California but they're working great in most of the nation. You hear doom and gloom stories about failures, but --

CAMEROTA: Like Arizona, for instance, where prices are up 116 -- the rates are up 116 percent. That's not working.

LEE: Look, it's not working, but even in Arizona most people there in the individual market get financial help so you hear premiums going up.

You don't hear that for 10 million Americans in 2018, even, their cost of health care is going to go down because they're getting financial help. And by their cost of health care going down they sign up, more healthy people sign up, it lowers costs for everyone else.

What we don't need is instability and uncertainty, and having this part of the tax bill's just that again, more uncertainty. So health insurers are going to say why would I play in this market? That's not helping Californians or Americans.

CAMEROTA: One of the ironies of the Affordable Care Act is that it has gotten more popular with time. As more Republicans have spoken out about bad it is, what a disaster it is -- you often hear the president say -- it's gotten more popular.

Let me show you this year. Obamacare enrollment has surged, OK?

For 2018, look at this. It's up 179 percent over last year. I mean, this is just in the first four days of open enrollment.

Is this people coming around to thinking oh, yes, this does really work or they're just afraid of what's next?

LEE: Well, two things.

First, we're in open enrollment right now so now is the time for people to sign up. Those big numbers -- most of them are people renewing their coverage. So people that already have it say oh my God, I've got keep it.

They're also seeing a surge in new enrollment. California -- we've had almost over 48,000 people sign up in this open enrollment period which is more than last year. But we've got three months of open enrollment.

Nationally, they've cut the open enrollment period to only six weeks so if people don't sign up they're going to be in deep trouble in January when they find out that open enrollment is closed.

CAMEROTA: I heard the word that you were searching for there that was going to be more colorful for what people were going to be, in deep.

The other irony is that you say that by 2017 -- by this year -- things have stabilized.

LEE: Absolutely.

CAMEROTA: So from where you sit, Obamacare had kind of worked out the kinks --

LEE: Yes.

CAMEROTA: -- and it was working. And now, it's being dismantled just as you think it's having success.

LEE: No, let me -- it's not just California.

Nationally, health plans have stabilized in '17. Eighteen was going to be a good year but then we had questions about the cautionary reduction subsidy, questions about marketing, funding. Health plans are running for the hills.

California -- we've got 11 health plans. But it's not just California. There's 20 states that have more than four health plans competing for lives.

And we've got a system that can work but it doesn't work if we keep on having uncertainty and instability coming out of Washington. That's really causing Americans a real disservice.

CAMEROTA: It's not just uncertainty out of Washington. They've actually taken action to try to weaken the Affordable Care Act because, as you know, Republicans didn't vote for it and they never liked it.

So let me put up on the screen what has been done to weaken Obamacare.

Executive order to roll back some portions of it. They keep saying that it's on the verge of collapse. Let me just stop there.

Was it on the verge of collapse when --

LEE: Absolutely not, and this is where -- the reason Americans like it more is they see it working. They see friends, family, and neighbors getting affordable care.

But they also see that this is something that has to work because, you know, most of us get insurance through our jobs.

The Affordable Care Act gives many of the other Americans that didn't get that leg up, a leg up because health care in America is too expensive. We all need a leg up. That's what it does and it's working. CAMEROTA: Just to go back to some of the things that Washington has done, and the Republicans. They've also canceled ads to tell people how to get it, to tout some of its successes. They've weakened enforcement of the individual mandate, therefore it doesn't really work if you're not enforcing it.

Tinkered with the rules to benefit insurers. Encouraged states to change their own rules. Withheld support of cost-sharing subsidies.

So when you've heard Republicans say look, it's just going to fall on its own weight -- it's going to collapse on its own weight -- what was that? What do you think they were doing?

LEE: Well, let me give you one of those examples. It's marketing. Health insurance has to be sold.

We're out there in California spending $111 million in California because we know getting more people in lowers premiums for everybody else. It doesn't make sense to me to cut back on marketing spending.

And I'm worried about 2019 because if you have fewer people sign up that are less healthy, prices are likely to skyrocket in 2019, and that didn't have to happen.

CAMEROTA: OK, so let's talk about that.

What message do you have if you don't like the idea of the individual mandate going away and what you're seeing in this new tax plan that Senate Republicans have inserted? What's your message to them? I mean, you want to sound an alarm.

LEE: Well, the big alarm is -- look, if you take away the individual mandate, 13 million Americans will be without insurance.

[07:40:00] CAMEROTA: You know what they say. Those 13 million didn't want it to begin with. You forced it on them and they didn't want it. That's not freedom in America.

LEE: See, but they aren't going to be without insurance because the penalty's not there. They're going to be without insurance because they aren't encouraged to shop and to find out how much coverage they get.

Most of those people are getting Medicaid. They aren't subject to the penalty. They're being encouraged to shop.

And, in California, we've been out there pounding the pavement letting people know about us. They know about cover in California but they still don't know they're eligible for financial help. Without knowing that, they don't sign up.

And so, the penalty is the nudge to get people to come in and find out that like, right now, 10 million Americans are getting financial help. Their costs will go down in 2018.

But if they're scared away because of sort of this bugaboo of skyrocketing premiums and the penalty going away, everyone loses.

CAMEROTA: Peter Lee, great to get your take on it, and you're trying to sound the alarm at the eleventh hour here. Thanks.

LEE: Absolutely. Thanks for having me here.

CAMEROTA: Chris --

CUOMO: Good conversation.

All right, here's a story you should not miss. It is a big deal to big game hunters.

There's a change in the rules made by the Trump administration that could affect elephants in Africa, and not in a good way. Details, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:45:26] CAMEROTA: Rare bipartisan agreement on Capitol Hill in the aftermath of recent mass shootings. A bill to strengthen background checks may be introduced in the Senate as early as today.

This deal is spearheaded by Republican Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas and Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut.

Two Senate sources say the legislation would ensure that states and the federal government upload required background check information to national databases.

The effort gained steam after the deadly church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas when the Air Force admitted that it failed to report the shooter's criminal history of domestic violence.

CUOMO: So, the Trump administration is removing restrictions on the importing of trophies from elephant hunts in Zimbabwe and Zambia. The move reverses a ban put in place by President Obama in 2014. African elephants are, of course, listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

It should be noted the president's son, Eric and Don, Jr., are both big game hunters.

CAMEROTA: Leonardo da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi" smashed records, becoming the most expensive work of art ever sold at auction. The 500-year-old painting of Jesus selling for more than $450 million following a 20-minute bidding war.

This painting is nicknamed the male Mona Lisa. It is one of less than 20 authenticated da Vinci's in existence.

CUOMO: Salvator Mundi, the savior of the world. That's a lot of money.

All right. Cold and rainy conditions may complicate early Thanksgiving travel across the Midwest and Northeast. The question is what's going to happen with this wet weather? Will it hold off?

Answer man, CNN meteorologist Chad Myers, looking at the forecast. What do you see?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Oh, I see Saturday just being a mess if you're traveling. That's one of the early travel days.

Now, today's pretty good. We'll see some rain through the Northeast and things will eventually dry out by midday.

This weather is brought to you by Jared, the Galleria of Jewelry.

And there is going to be one storm system after another just rolling through the Northeast and through the Midwest. So we'll take you day- by-day.

For tomorrow, snow in the Rockies. Major snow if you're traveling over the passes in the Rockies for tomorrow.

Now, that storm does get to Chicago by Saturday and there's the heavy rainfall. Now, it is just rain. Temperatures in the forties. We're not snowing yet.

But as we work our way into Sunday and finally into Sunday night, the lake-effect snow machine ramps up and yes, Canandaigua (ph), Chautauqua County, back up into the Watertown area, major snows. Like two to three inches of snow during the day per hour for five or six hours. So yes, travel upstate could be a little bit difficult.

Other than that, pretty good shape.

CAMEROTA: OK, good to know, Chad. Thank you very much.

MYERS: You're welcome.

CAMEROTA: So, President Trump and Sen. Marco Rubio are finding common ground. The watershed moment that left the Internet thirsty for more.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:52:00] CUOMO: Roy Moore is digging in. He tweeted to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, "Bring it on." And then, people on Twitter went crazy saying isn't that a teenager movie about cheerleaders, which may not have helped the Senate candidate's cause.

In an open letter to "FOX NEWS" sent to Sean Hannity, he denied any wrongdoing and he suggested that the accusations are just a political hit job.

He specifically called out one his accusers, Beverly Young Nelson, in his letter writing.

We have documented that the most recent accuser, Beverly Nelson, was a party in a divorce action before me in County Circuit Court in 1999. No motion was ever made for me to be recused. In her accusations, Nelson didn't mention that I was the judge assigned to her divorce case in '99, a matter that apparently caused her no distress at the time that was 18 years closer to the alleged assault. Yet, 18 years later while talking before the cameras about the supposed assault, she seemingly could not contain her emotions.

Let's discuss how conservative media is handling this. The story is a big one.

CNN senior media correspondent and host of "RELIABLE SOURCES" Brian Stelter joins us.

The early hurdle for them was hypocrisy. They were all over the Weinstein stuff. They said will the left own one of their own?

And, of course, Weinstein was quickly outed and all of the accusers were brought out. But then, there was a lot of quiet over -- especially on the "FOX" side about what happened with Moore early on.

It's changed. Hannity has become the centerpiece.

How do you see it?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT, HOST, CNN "RELIABLE SOURCES": Certainly, right-wing media outlets don't want to have to talk about Roy Moore. They would much rather talk about anything else.

CAMEROTA: Hillary Clinton.

STELTER: And Hillary Clinton, when possible -- and whenever possible.

But to the sense that they have to deal with this controversy we're not seeing a lot of leadership from these right-wing talk show hosts. We're seeing some hedging, some punting.

But really, what Sean Hannity did last night was he punted the issue --

CAMEROTA: Because he has said --

STELTER: -- in some ways over to President Trump.

CAMEROTA: He had given Roy Moore 24 hours -- 24 hours --

STELTER: Right.

CAMEROTA: -- to prove with some evidence -- show us some evidence of why we believe you. Time's up.

STELTER: The time's up and yet, at the end of the hour Hannity said it's going to be up to the voters of Alabama. That is a true but also a cliche that I see a lot of commentators holding onto. This isn't up to me, it's up to the voters.

Well, actually, people like Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh, like them or not, they're viewed as leaders in this conservative media world.

They are viewed as leaders by people like President Trump. We know that the president takes advice from these voices on radio and television.

So I know they prefer to be entertainers, prefer not to talk about this, prefer to let the voters decide, but we're actually not seeing all the leadership from these -- from these hosts, from these commentators which is notable given that Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan and other GOP leaders have spoken out, you now. They are accountable to the voters in a year or so.

These hosts are accountable every day to their audience. They look to the ratings, they look at the page views. Maybe they're concerned that they don't know where their audience stands on this issue but it's a very tough situation for these hosts who, again, normally would rather just talk about Hillary Clinton and not talk scandals.

CUOMO: It's not tough, Brian. These are choices that they make. These are pundits, not journalists, and they make choices about what's going to work for their audience.

[05:55:03] They like to pander and sometimes you wind up getting hoisted on your own petard. We saw that with the Uranium One thing.

So, Shep Smith decides to do what we do all the time, which is to test what an allegation is about one of these things.

Uranium One is a complete red herring for people and people on "FOX" tout about it. Some of them call it the real Russia scandal --

STELTER: Right.

CUOMO: -- which is just a bunch of B.S. And now, Shep comes forward and does the job of journalism and shows how that's not true.

What does that mean for "FOX"?

STELTER: He is increasingly sticking out like a sore thumb on "FOX NEWS." I think it's great that Shep Smith is there. It makes a lot of sense that he is -- he's a real journalist trying to explain what's really going on in the midst of all these pro-Trump opinion shows. But he does stick out like a sore thumb and I think it must create some tension behind the scenes.

CAMEROTA: Very, very quickly, this fight between Steve Bannon and Matt Drudge. So we just -- it is conservative intranesting fighting. What's happening there?

Matt Drudge thinks that Steve Bannon should be against Roy Moore.

STELTER: Right. There's the -- it seems like there's this back-and- forth -- an unusual public spat. It's another example of the conservative media civil war and it goes back to leadership.

Bannon's had his finger in the air trying to figure out what to do about Roy Moore. But as of now, according to all the sources who have talked to him, he's sticking by Moore's side.

CAMEROTA: Brian, thank you very much for bringing all of that to us.

So, now this. He was touting the success of his Asia trip but President Trump's victory lap was somewhat derailed momentarily on live T.V. by a sudden case of dry mouth and a Marco Rubio moment.

CNN's Jeanne Moos has had a field day.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump didn't have to eat his words, he had to drink them. Eleven minutes into his speech his mouth got dry.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The core principles of fairness --

MOOS: A few seconds later --

TRUMP: Seventeen thousand jobs. Thank you.

MOOS: -- the president disappeared.

TRUMP: They don't have water? That's OK. What?

MOOS: Reporters pointed to a small table next to the lectern. To your right, sir, said one.

Now, the president stopping his speech to swig from a bottle of water would be no huge deal if he hadn't done this back during the campaign.

TRUMP: It's Rubio.

MOOS: Tossing water around the stage, he imitated Sen. Marco Rubio and then lobbed the entire bottle.

TRUMP: Uh, uh, I need water. Help me, I need water. Help.

And he said -- this is on live television.

MOOS: Then-candidate Trump was mocking Rubio from the time Rubio desperately gulped down water while he was delivering the Republican response to the State of the Union.

So what did Rubio say about Trump's parched moment?

"Similar, but needs work on his form. Has to be done in one single motion and eyes should never leave the camera. But not bad for his first time."

Pretty witty considering what Trump called him.

TRUMP: You're a choker.

MOOS: Rubio guzzled made in the USA Poland Spring while the president drank imported Fiji water. Noted one reporter, Trump drinks Fiji water while decrying trade deficits. This year, the U.S. has a $119 million deficit with Fiji.

After Rubio ducked to drink, Trump imitated him.

TRUMP: I said where is he?

MOOS: Where are you?

"THE DAILY SHOW" commemorated Trump's Rubio moment, tweeting "President Trump's official portrait unveiled. You are looking at proof that water is never under the bridge."

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CUOMO: The under the bridge thing got you, huh?

CAMEROTA: There are so many good water metaphors to run with. I like what Brian Stelter just said. He called it Watergate.

CUOMO: Yes.

CAMEROTA: There's so many things that we call gate. This truly is Watergate.

CUOMO: I know, and Brian can call it that because he's so young that the real Watergate --

CAMEROTA: But he thinks this is Watergate.

CUOMO: -- isn't as entrenched --

CAMEROTA: That's right.

CUOMO: -- for him.

But look, this is what happens in politics. You take a shot at somebody, you never know when it's going to come back and hit you right in your little two-handed grip.

CAMEROTA: We're following a lot of news this morning so let's get right to it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GLORIA ALLRED, ATTORNEY FOR BEVERLY YOUNG NELSON: How many women is it going to take to be believed over one powerful man?

PHILLIP JAUREGUI, ATTORNEY FOR ROY MOORE: Not once have I ever seen him act inappropriate against any women.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: He was on the no-fly list for a mall, so it gives credibility to these women.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump is reluctant to weigh in on this.

REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D), CALIFORNIA: His hands are too close to the fire on himself.

CUOMO: The House expected to pass their tax reform bill today as all eyes remain on the Senate.

SEN. RON JOHNSON (R), WISCONSIN: I wouldn't vote for this Senate version, bottom line.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: President Trump is committed to passing tax cuts this year.

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: This is not a good deal. This is such a scam.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your new day. It is Thursday, November 16th, 8:00 here in the east.

And that is Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore facing new allegations this morning. Two more accusers coming forward. One woman telling "The Washington Post" that Moore was in this thirties and she was a teenager when he made unwanted advances towards her.