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Up Close with Trump's Campaign Manager; Report: Obamacare Premiums Set to Increase Sharply; Secretary Sylvia Burwell Responds to Report on Obamacare Rate Increases. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired October 25, 2016 - 13:30   ET



[13:30:00] DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She's Trump's third campaign manager but the first woman ever to run a GOP presidential race.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, DONALD TRUMP PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN MANAGER: I wasn't hired because of my gender. But it's a special responsibility.


BASH: And often, a difficult one, like this weekend, when Trump went off script, attacking the women who say he groped them.

DONALD TRUMP, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: All of these liars will be sued after the election is over.


BASH (on camera): Tear your hair out when you hear him say that?

CONWAY: It's his campaign and his candidacy, and in the end, he has to feel comfortable with his voice and --


BASH: You're the campaign manager. Are you comfortable with that?

CONWAY: I think Donald Trump is at his very best when he talks about the issues.

BASH (voice-over): Translation, going off message hurts his campaign. Conway insists she's tough on Trump in private.

CONWAY: I don't sugarcoat it at all.


BASH (on camera): Give an example. I'm Donald Trump and you're Kellyanne Conway and I say something that really makes you mad.

CONWAY: I told him yesterday, on the plane, you and I are going to fight for the next 17 days. He said, why? I said, because I know you're going to win, and that comment you just made sounds like you're going to lose, and we're going to argue about it until we win.

BASH: His response?

CONWAY: He said, OK, honey, then we're going to win.


BASH (voice-over): For a time, Trump was disciplined. Not anymore, especially on Twitter.

CONWAY: Literally, people seriously say, can't you delete his --


BASH (on camera): That's one of my questions.


CONWAY: It's not for me to take away a grown man's Twitter account.

TRUMP: And I moved on her very heavily --

BASH (voice-over): When tape from 2005 came out of Trump describing lewd behavior, Conway cancelled Sunday TV appearances, but helped with damage control.

CONWAY: And I felt like Rapunzel in the tower all weekend and I told Mr. Trump in private what I've also said in public or a variation thereof, I found the comments horrible and indefensible, and he didn't ask anybody to defend him, by the way.

BASH (on camera): Did you consider quitting?

CONWAY: I did not.

BASH (voice-over): She said she thought his apology was earnest.

(on camera): The women who have now come forward saying it's not just talk. Donald Trump groped me. Do you believe them?

CONWAY: I believe -- Donald Trump has told me and his family and the rest of America now that none of this is true. These are lies and fabrications, they're all made up. And I think that it's not for me to judge what those women believe. I have not talked to them. I've talked to him.

BASH (voice-over): She was raised in New Jersey by a single mom, aunts and grandmother, all women. As a pollster, she chose to work in what she calls as man's world, especially as a Republican.

She recalled a potential client, a man asking how she balanced kids and work.

CONWAY: I hope you ask all the male consultants, are you going to give up your weekend golf and your mistresses? Because they seem really, really busy, too. (MUSIC)

BASH: Still, like most working moms, time with her kids is precious.


UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: How about "Hamilton."

BASH: The question is whether she'll have more time in two weeks after Election Day.

When hired in August, she told Trump he was losing but could still win.

BASH (on camera): You think at this point it is still possible to win?

CONWAY: It's still possible to win.

BASH: Probable?

CONWAY: I think we have a very good chance of winning.

BASH: Dana Bash, CNN, Alpine, New Jersey.


BLITZER: Kellyanne Conway will be my guest later today in "The Situation Room," 5:00 p.m. eastern, right here on CNN.

Up next, Obamacare premiums skyrocketing, in some cases, more than 100 percent. We'll ask the health secretary what that means for consumers nationwide.


[13:38:04] BLITZER: Welcome back. We've been talking this hour about a new government report that says Obamacare premiums are set to spike next year, going up an average of 22 percent across states that use health care exchanges. Some states like Arizona, for example, could actually see an average increase of more than 100 percent, while others will see almost no increase at all. With two weeks to go before the presidential election, Donald Trump and the Republicans, they are understandably jumping on all of this as their next big talking point.

Let's bring in CNN business correspondent, Alison Kosik, who's in New York; and Michelle Kosinski, our White House correspondent.

Alison, before we get to the political reaction -- and it's been intense -- lay out what exactly these increases are, how much people will be paying out of pocket, what states are impacted. Tell us about all of that.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: OK. Right about one thing. Most states across the country will be feeling the sting of these higher premium jumps. And you see those average premiums, for states at 25 percent.

So if you break down those jumps, what states will see, individually, you look at Arizona. That really caught our eye. One 69 biggest jumps at 116 percent for the more popular benchmark silver premium plan that Obama means you're seeing a jump from around $200 a month to $500 a month and then you see Alabama at 58 percent for their premium increase. But Indiana is actually going to see a decrease in premiums, but across the board you're doing to see premium spikes across the country.

Then you talk about nationwide, people enrolled are going to be getting subsidies from the government, which means many are going to pay less than $100 a month because of those subsidies. So you see those prices. They're sticker shock. But the reality is, most of the people in Obamacare won't have to pay those premiums, because the subsidized money from taxpayers, families with incomes above $250,000 will now have to pay more in Medicare payroll taxes, a small percentage. 15 percent, who don't qualify for the subsidy, will wind up paying out of pocket.

[13:40:15] Also one more caveat. To get that subsidy, Wolf, many actually have to switch plans which could mean a new set of doctors, which isn't always the easiest thing to do, especially for these who have a chronic condition, like cancer. Especially as we see insurers pulling out of marketplaces leaving no choice for many in Obamacare. In fact, one-fifth of the country will just have a single insurer on the Obamacare marketplaces.

Before I go, I want to point out, having one choice is better than none at all. Before the Affordable Care Act, there was no choice. And now there's an option. One health care adviser telling me you don't save money by not insuring people. Many believing that this is better than nothing, despite the fact Obamacare does have a lot of problems -- Wolf?

BLITZER: Yeah. It was not supposed to be like this.

Michelle, two weeks ago until the election, what's the political impact here? Specifically, how is the White House responding?

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I think, Wolf, a short answer and the easy but right answer was the impact will just depend. This provides now the perfect fodder for Republicans criticizing Obamacare from the start, today, calling it a disaster, a train wreck. I mean, this makes that voice louder. It provides what they would say is the proof that Obamacare is not working. But to the individual voters, it depends where you, whether you like your plan, whether you're big an increase you'll see, and how big of an impact this issue makes to you on the election overall.

The White House has been pretty consistent throughout. We haven't heard from them today. We will hear them take questions in about an hour on these numbers specifically. But what they've been saying throughout is, look at the overall picture, the 20 million more people in American now have insurance where they couldn't find something affordable before, that the vast majority of people are getting subsidies, the vast majority of people are finding an affordable plan. And that when you look at health care increases over the last several years, the last five our six years, these are the smallest increases on record. Of course, next year that's going to change a little bit.

But Democrats will hold that the increases, the overall that people are going to be paying, would have been more if Obamacare didn't exist. So just depends who's voice is out there is stronger to the voters -- Wolf?

BLITZER: Michelle, thanks very much.

Alison, thanks to you as well.

Let's get more on all of this. Joining us, the U.S. Health and Human Services secretary, Sylvia Burwell.

Madam Secretary, thanks for joining us.

SYLVIA BURWELL, HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: Wolf, thanks so much for having me.

BLITZER: Let's talk about this after of, what, 22 percent increase what we call the benchmark silver plan for people who use the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare. Why is the price of what was marketed as Affordable Care Act skyrocketing right now?

BURWELL: I think what's important is what the consumer pays when asking a question like that. When we think of the consumers and most viewers, 150 million people in the United States have employer insurance. In the last six years, five of those years have seen the slowest growth in premiums that are on record. So for 150 million people, this does not impact them. For all the folks on Medicare out there, in terms of that number of about 55 million people on Medicare, this does not impact them. For the 70 million in Medicaid, it doesn't. For the 11 million in the marketplace, 85 percent of those folks actually have the tax credits or the subsidies that help them, and those subsidies are designed to move as premiums move. So for those folks, they will be insulated from the changes.

BLITZER: So Arizona, for example, the benchmark plans average increase right now 116 percent projected next year. That's more than double the premium right now. Is that acceptable to the administration?

BURWELL: You know, of course, across the board, we don't want to see premium increases. And as I said, in the employer base market we've seen that premium growth is slowing. Even in Arizona where 75 percent of the folks actually have subsidies that will help them so that they're insulated from the changes. Additionally, in the state of Arizona, because they did have lower rates to begin with, we will see a large number of people who are eligible now for the subsidies. That's why, Wolf, it's so important for people to shop. One of the things that happened on midnight Sunday was that window shopping went up. So people can start looking at plans and looking at the kind of financial assistance they can get and which plans might be bet for them from an affordable and a quality perspective. Then on November 1st, start signing up for those plans.

[13:45:10] BLITZER: Secretary, a lot of those states, several states, there's only one carrier left. There isn't any competition. All the other health insurance carriers left that state. That's a serious problem.

BURWELL: On average, Wolf, consumers will have 30 plans to choose from. Even in the state where there is a single issuer, last year, we know that the average issuer had at least 10 plans, and when one looks at the employer market, in 2015, 30 percent of folks in the employer market had just one plan. And so in terms of that issue of choice, on average, consumers will have 30 plans to choose from.

BLITZER: And several states only one left. And the number of carriers willing to cooperate with the Affordable Care Act has gone down from 298 in 2016 to only 228 next year.

I know Republicans are seizing on all of this with two weeks to go before the election. But I want to remind you what the former President Bill Clinton said about Obamacare just a few weeks ago. Listen to this.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Got this crazy system where all of a sudden 25 million more people have health care and then the people out there busting it, sometimes 60 hours a week, wind up with their premiums doubled and their coverage cut in half. It's the craziest thing in the world.



BLITZER: Do you agree it's the craziest thing in the world?

BURWELL: First, back to one of the points you made. It's important to distinguish between issuers and plans. For people in terms of the choices they face and in terms of what the consumer feels, as I said, each issuer on average had 10 plans.

With regard to the former president's remarks, I think the president clarified his support and what he does believe.

What we do know is for many of those people, the benefits are the Affordable Care Act, many of those folks had no choice in terms of plans. They would be kept out because of preexisting conditions. We know there are affordable plans. Last year, for folks who came back on the marketplace and actually shopped, the average savings was $500. And so shopping on the marketplace is going to be an important part, even for those that don't have subsidies.

BLITZER: I know you've got to run. Quickly, whatever happened to, if you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan, if you like your doctor, you can keep your consider doctor? Promises made six years ago, but not able to live up to that, right? BURWELL: You know, with regard to folks, many of the people we've

seen the drop in uninsured be 20 million folks. For those people, they didn't have insurance before the Affordable Care Act. So for 20 million Americans, they didn't have that insurance, and now they have that insurance and they have choices.

In addition, what I would say is there are many tooling we are providing. That's one of the things that will continue to improve in this open enrollment, are the tools to go on and shop by doctor, shop by drugs, in terms there are certainly prescriptions you take. In terms of increasing the choice and increasing the ability to even have plans, if you had any pre-existing conditions. For those millions of American who have coverage that didn't before, they're in a place that is much different.

BLITZER: So what you're saying is the benefits outweigh the setbacks. There have been setbacks but you say the benefits outweigh those setbacks.

It will be a big issue over the next two weeks as this campaign winds down, I'm sure.

Madam Secretary, thank you so much for joining us.


BURWELL: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Go ahead. Finish your thought.

BURWELL: I was just going to say, I think that the point about the benefits is so important, because for Americans who aren't part of the marketplace, those other tens and hundreds of millions, at this point over 150 in the employer-base market, for those folks pre-existing conditions don't keep them out. Your kids stay on your plan until age 26. And you can get a number of services, whether those are things like vaccines, pre-cancer screenings, at no extra cost. The benefits are broad. Often not recognized as being part of the Affordable Care Act, but those benefits extend to many Americans beyond the 11 million in the marketplace.

BLITZER: Health Secretary Sylvia Burwell, thanks so much for joining us.

BURWELL: Thanks for having me, Wolf.

[13:49:24] BLITZER: Coming up, we'll shift gears. Iraqi forces have freed nearly 80 villages as they make their way into the ISIS-held city of Mosul. The terror group now calling for reinforcements from fighters inside Syria. We're going live to the region, right after this.


[13:53:36] BLITZER: A week into the operation to liberate Mosul, Iraqi-led forces say they've made better-than-expected progress, liberating almost 80 villages near the city. Nearly 800 ISIS fighters have been killed so far, they say, but the liberators have also met with fierce resistance, and hundreds of civilians have been killed and some are being used as human shields.

Our senior international correspondent, Arwa Damon, is nearby in Irbil.

Arwa, ISIS has been setting traps to go off as they retreat, including setting fire to sulfur facilities. What's the impact over there?

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, in some areas, it's been devastating. We were down at a sulfur plant that ISIS placed explosives in. The key strategic explosives that ISIS left behind were inside what is a massive mountain of sulfur. And the explosion resulted in the sulfur melting and releasing toxic gas, poisonous clouds in the air. And this burning has been going on for days now, Wolf. You have rescue teams working, trying to help people impacted by this. Hundreds have had to seek medical attention. You also have teams have been working around the clock trying to put the flames out and they spread over about a span of about two and a half to three miles.

When you're down there, though, when you look at it, it's oddly beautiful. You have waves that are fluorescent that are hitting up against this white sulfur. But it's so deadly.

[13:55:19] And the question, of course, is not only is what kind of an impact is this having on the troops as they move forward. But in some cases the wind is changed and these toxic fumes have reached the Americans based at the air base. Then you have to impact on the civilian population. And what everyone is wondering is if ISIS is willing to do this on the outskirts of Mosul, what is it will do inside the city itself -- Wolf?

BLITZER: We're expecting in the next weeks and months as this battle will continue, much more of this kind of destruction and death.

Thanks so much for that report, Arwa Damon, not far away from Mosul.

That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'll be back 5:00 p.m. eastern in "The Situation Room."

The news continues right after this.