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Stock Markets before Vote; House Votes on Health Care; Pre- Existing Conditions in Health Care; House Republicans Vote on Health Care. Aired 9:30-10a

Aired May 4, 2017 - 09:30   ET

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


[09:30:00] CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN MONEY CORRESPONDENT: Outs of what's going on with Obamacare. What's really important is whether the White House can rally enough Republican support to get a bill through Congress. And what essentially that means to Wall Street is that the administration has some fire power to get the rest of the legislative agenda through Congress, like tax reform, like reducing regulations, and that's really what investors are hoping for right now.

And they're already in a good mood because in Europe markets were up. It was an indication in the polls that the more centrist candidate in the French elections was ahead. So that was a positive sign. Yesterday the Federal Reserve expressed some confidence over the U.S. economy and finally there are earnings. Earnings have gone really, really well. So there's a lot of positive sentiment on Wall Street right now. Obviously, they're going to be looking ahead to tomorrow. Tomorrow's a big day in the market for jobs. The jobs report comes out and that's where the rubber is going to meet the road.

John. Poppy.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Cristina Alesci, thank you so much.

Again, right now on the floor of the U.S. Capitol, on the House, the procedures have begun. The first debate over the rule. This is the first stages of the measure that will ultimately be a vote to repeal and replace Obamacare just a few hours away.

Coming up, we're going to speak to a Democrat in the Senate. How does he feel about what's going on?

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ACA, I survived.

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[09:35:53] BERMAN: All right, happening right now, action on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. It will be close, they say, but it will get passed. POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Right. That is the message House Republicans

are touting as they pretty confidently move towards the vote on the House health care bill. In just a few hours, of course, you'll see it all live right here.

Joining us now is Republican Congressman Joe Barton of the great state of Texas. He is a "yes" vote on this, at least he has been up until now. So unless that has changed, my friend, is this - how confident are you that you guys are going to get this one through, that this plan, 2.0, makes it through the House?

REP. JOE BARTON (R), TEXAS: Well, you never know until the votes are up on the board. But if you had a betting line in Las Vegas, we'd be the - we, the Republicans who are for it, would be the favorite.

I think it will pass. We won't have lots of votes to spare, but we'll have enough to get it over the finish line.

BERMAN: I think right now Vegas has you favored by a field goal, congressman.

You predicted that your state - you predicted that Texas, quote, "would lead the parade to opt out of all the federal mandates." This has to do with some of the waivers that are provided here. Does that include the community rating that pretty much guarantees price equity for people with pre-existing conditions? Do you think Texas will lead the parade to opt out of that?

BARTON: What we're trying to do is try to recreate a real health insurance market that's based on market economics. And I think Texas will lead the parade on that. But when you opt out of the federal man mandates, that doesn't mean you're opting out of providing quality health insurance for those that cannot get it through their workplace. And so, you know, you either believe in government or you believe in markets.

Texas is an independent state in the fact that we believe in doing it for ourselves. And I - we trust the market and we think we'll have a very functional health insurance market.

Obamacare is failing. There are - there are areas of the country today that no plans are being offered in these individual exchanges. So whether Trump had won or Mrs. Clinton had won, we would - you know, we would be addressing the problem. Since Trump won, we're addressing it from a conservative market based way. If Mrs. Clinton had won, they would be addressing it from a more government intervention way.

HARLOW: Look, there isn't that example yet where no individual changes are offered, but Iowa is on its way there. I hear you sir and I understand the problems. But you said this is not opting out of quality care. But would it not, you know, opt some people out of against their will affordable care. Yes, you're - you have the Upton (ph) amendment, yes you are putting $8 billion more into these high- risk pools, but almost all the experts you ask, including the head of the American Medical Association, including the head of the Kaiser Family Foundation, says it is not nearly enough money to make it affordable for folk to afford coverage that have pre-existing conditions.

BARTON: Well, with respect I would say they're wrong. I believe that markets will work. We think that premiums will come down.

HARLOW: How do you know that? I mean these are the people -

BERMAN: Congressman - congressman -

HARLOW: This is their jobs - this is their job to do these numbers.

BERMAN: Hey, congressman - congressman, the high risk pools existed before -

HARLOW: Yes.

BERMAN: When there were these markets that you're talking about there. And when there were high risk pools, generally speaking, they were more expensive for the people in them and they cost more for the various government entities than had been predicted. That was under the system that you're trying to return to.

BARTON: Well, we don't - we don't tell the states that opt out exactly how to create their high risk pool. But if they will follow the example of the state of Maine, what Maine did, they didn't put high risk people into the high risk pool. They used the high risk pool to subsidize the premium of high risk people that were in the regular pool. So they - they basically bought down the charge that the high risk person was paying in their regular plan by subsidizing that plan.

HARLOW: Well, congressman -

BARTON: They didn't take that person out and put them into a separate pool.

HARLOW: Congressman, actually, what the state of Maine did, and I'm fascinated to know if you're willing to do this, is they accept everyone. I mean they put a tax on everyone, $4 a month, to pay for that. That was their funding mechanism. Are you willing to support a tax to do that, to put more money in these pools for high risk individuals for those with pre-existing conditions?

[09:40:11] BARTON: Well, this - this - the plan that we're - the plan that we're going to vote on today doesn't have any taxes in it. It does have federal subsidies.

HARLOW: I know, but I'm saying to you, you're pointing to Maine as an example. You're saying Maine worked, so this will work. And I'm telling our viewers, Maine worked because of the tax. Are you willing to support a tax to make it work?

BARTON: Well, I don't - I don't know all there is to know about the Maine plan, but I do know that markets will work. And I do know that if you give people choices and create more competition, you're going to get insurance companies competing for people's business.

And, remember, all this debate about pre-existing conditions is for those individuals that don't have health insurance through their employer. They have health insurance either through Medicare, Medicaid or they have to buy it themselves. And under Obamacare, they had to go into these individual exchanges. We're keeping the individual exchanges. We're just making them voluntarily. And if the state wants to opt out and create its own market, we're going to try to let that happen. I think that's better.

BERMAN: How do you know - how do you know - how do you know it will be better? How do you know that their rates won't go up? And how do you know how much it will cost if there's no CBO score?

BARTON: Well, I know that Obamacare is failing. I know that premiums were skyrocketing. I know that exist, you know, federal mandates do not work.

BERMAN: But that - but that doesn't - and I'm not disagreeing that - I'm not disagreeing that premiums -

BARTON: If they worked, everyone would love Obamacare.

BERMAN: But that's a different question. But that's a different question than -

BARTON: It's not happening.

BERMAN: That's a different question than how do you know how this will work or what the predictions can be without a CBO score.

BARTON: Well, you'll eventually get a CBO score and I just, in my 32 years in Congress, when we've allowed markets to work, they tend to work better than government mandates, federal mandates. So - and I know that to be a fact.

HARLOW: Some - but sometimes - sometimes the markets work, sure. But in the 35 states that had these high risk pools before Obamacare, it didn't work for a lot of folks. It was way over budget. States had to jump in and fund it. The evidence, sir, is that it didn't work before and Obamacare is far from perfect. But are you saying essentially you hope that it works this time?

BARTON: No, ma'am, I'm not - I'm not saying I hope. I'm thinking there is a reasonable expectation. There is a probability that this will be better than all the mandates that we had under Obamacare. We know that it was - Obamacare is and was a failure. And again, if Mrs. Clinton had won, we'd be having the same debate, except the Democrats would be pushing for more government intervention. Almost as many people paid the penalty so that they didn't have to go into Obamacare as actually went into it. About 19 million people chose to pay IRS up to $2,000 a year so they didn't have to comply with the individual mandate. That individual mandate did not work. And if you hadn't had bought off the states by paying 100 percent of the cost of the premiums for healthy adults, you wouldn't have had the so-called expansion of coverage that the Democrats crow (ph) about. That was a bribe to the states to expand Medicaid to healthy adults.

BERMAN: Congressman, obviously, there is a lot more to discuss on this subject. We hope to have you back, including when there is a CBO score on this to talk about -

HARLOW: Yes.

BERMAN: You know, what the projections are after you're all going to vote on it, but it will be an interesting discussion to say the least.

Congressman Joe Barton of Texas, thank you so much.

BARTON: I appreciate it.

HARLOW: All right, we're going to take a quick break. Much more on this breaking news just hours ahead of this big health care vote. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:48:01] BERMAN: All right, it is all happening on Capitol Hill. You're looking at live pictures right now.

HARLOW: Right now.

BERMAN: The House floor. The first stages of the voting on the measures to replace and replace Obamacare.

I want to bring in CNN's senior writer Tami Luhby.

Tammy, at issue here really at the end of this is coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.

TAMI LUHBY, CNN MONEY SENIOR WRITER: Right.

BERMAN: And will they lose affordable coverage under this measure or will they lose access to affordable coverage or will these high risk pools that the Republicans are proposing, will that cover up what is lost here? And what do we know about high risk pools?

LUHBY: Well, so Obamacare had iron clad protections for pre-existing conditions. That is very different than what it was before. Previously, if you had a problem years before -

HARLOW: Yes.

LUHBY: You could have been rejected for coverage. You could have been charged a lot. You could have gotten coverage. But if you had asthma, you wouldn't get coverage for your respiratory system. So it was a big problem. High risk pools existed in 35 states in the past, but they had a lot of problems. Some of them worked well. A lot of them didn't. They charged high premiums. They had waiting lists. And they lost a lot of money, so states had to put in a lot of money.

HARLOW: You have a great write on this. I would push people to cnnmoney.com, only in a commercial break, to read it. But you talk about Wisconsin.

LUHBY: Yes.

HARLOW: I mean you talk about Paul Ryan, the speaker's, own state where this was tried and did it succeed?

LUHBY: You know, I mean, the reviews were mixed. For people who were in it, it worked OK, but there were a lot of people who had to pay a lot of money and it was a million dollar cap. So -

HARLOW: A lot of people had to pay a lot of money.

LUHBY: Yes. So it was still expensive. They started 200 percent of the traditional premium.

HARLOW: Wow.

LUHBY: They had a low deductible, but they had a million dollar lifetime limit. So if you had a major car accident or cancer or some other major problem, you had a million dollars and that was it and then you were on your own.

BERMAN: In almost every example where this has been tried, it cost more for the people who are buying into it, premiums are higher -

HARLOW: Right.

BERMAN: And it costs more for the government than has been - it doesn't mean it doesn't work at all. It just means that these are choices that need to be made. And in terms of the cost, your $8 billion being added on to what is already in this measure. You know, do we have any estimate for how much it would cost to cover people in this country in high risk pools?

[09:50:12] LUHBY: I mean it will really depend on how many states choose to waive this protection. This isn't going to erase pre- existing conditions protections, you know, nationwide. States are going to be able to apply for waivers to allow insurers to charge more to those who are sick or not to give them as many benefits. Those people would have to go into the high-risk pools. So it's really hard to say right now. It will depend on how many states opt to have the waivers.

HARLOW: Yes. Yes. And we should just note, look, Obamacare is not working for everyone. We just saw, as you've been reporting, some big, big providers pulling out of Virginia, possibly Iowa right now.

LUHBY: Yes. Very true.

HARLOW: So something needs to get fixed all around.

Tami, thank you. Great reporting.

LUHBY: Thank you.

HARLOW: All right.

BERMAN: We are watching the House floor right notice. The debate to repeal and replace Obamacare is on. We're going to hear much more on this. All the major developments and hear from people going in to cast their vote. That's coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: All right, right now the House of Representatives getting ready to vote on the measure to repeal and replace Obamacare. All taking place right now.

HARLOW: And it looks a lot better for House Republicans than it did exactly 42 days ago.

Sunlen Serfaty is on The Hill talking to some of them. How confident are they at this hour?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I can tell you, Poppy, leadership is certainly trying to project confidence this morning. I spoke with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy as he was headed into this meeting with the full Republican conference this morning and he had very short but very definitive answers to my questions, clearly sensing confidence today. Asked him if he has the votes. He said one word, yes. I asked him, absolutely you have the votes? And he followed up, yes. So, clearly trying to give a very short comments but projecting confidence this morning.

Also the deputy whip going in asking about the whip counts. He said he believed that those whip counts that he has are accurate this morning. So certainly they are making that driving push towards 216 votes needed.

But I have to say, as people filter out of this meeting, very clear that this does teeter on the brink within a few votes as we have been reporting. I just talked to Congressman Carbello (ph). He was an undecided. He remains an undecided. He said the meeting was a positive one but he still needs time to review the text that he noted - he said that the Upton amendment that was added, he - certainly was a step in the right direction, but not sure if it's a step far enough to get his "yes" vote.

[09:55:19] John and Poppy.

BERMAN: Still undecided, Sunlen Serfaty. That is fascinating as we are in the minutes, you know, at most hours before the vote.

HARLOW: Yes.

BERMAN: It sounds like there's a congressman right there who wasn't - doesn't want to be the deciding vote one way or the other unless he absolutely has to be.

Sunlen Serfaty, thanks so much. We'll stay on that.

HARLOW: And we are - as you're looking at live pictures of the House floor there on Capitol Hill - moments away from the first floor debate on the rules and then moving ahead to the full vote in just hours on this second attempt to get GOP health care reform through the House. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BERMAN: All right, there is House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, confident he has the votes to pass the measure to repeal and replace Obamacare. Let's listen.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R), : We cannot wait for health (ph). Obamacare is collapsing. We have to transform this, as we will do today.

QUESTION: You're (INAUDIBLE) votes?

MCCARTHY: Yes.

QUESTION: Was there any feeling that you might have any last minute surprises here? We heard a few undecideds still needing (INAUDIBLE).

MCCARTHY: No, we'll have the vote.

QUESTION: Is there a time frame (INAUDIBLE)?

QUESTION: Is there a plan b?

MCCARTHY: This -

QUESTION: Does that have a CBO score?

HARLOW: All right. All right, there you have it, a very confident Representative Kevin McCarthy saying to our Sunlen Serfaty just asking him, are you worried about any undecideds? Shaking his head no. This will pass.

Let's go to Sunlen. Always running after them for answers. Sunlen Serfaty on The Hill. I think we have her with us, right, guys?

Sunlen, can you hear us?

SERFATY: Hey, guys, I can hear you.

HARLOW: OK. So a very confident Kevin McCarthy there.

SERFATY: That's right and clearly projecting confidence going into this meeting. And, most importantly, projecting confidence leaving the meeting where they met with their full caucus. Really, of course, to get a final check-in on how their members are feeling and where they're potentially voting. And he said, point blank, we will pass this around 1:30 today.

The timing not so important, but the outcome certainly important to the leadership here. You can see in that video he was all smiles. And I asked him, you know, we have, of course, heard from many members that they're still reviewing this legislative text, they're still undecided, does that make you a little nervous, the fact that this is going to be such a close vote? And he said, no, we are going to vote this through today.

John and Poppy.

BERMAN: And, Sunlen Serfaty, though, a number of "no" votes have switched to "yes." So if there is movement in any direction, it is only toward the "yes."

SERFATY: That's absolutely right. And, of course, some people could still be making up their mind, but we saw really that flood yesterday after that Upton amendment was added, a lot of "no" votes shifting to "yes," and that certainly was the intention behind that amendment. And a lot of members here saying that that's something that helped them get over the finish line. So certainly coming out of this meeting today, a sense that this is going the right direction for Republican leadership.

I should note that this is, you know, near 40 days after the failure of that last attempt. We're at that morning they were showing confidence, too, but certainly a different type of mood up here on Capitol Hill now within just a few hours of this vote. A lot of expressions of confidence coming out of this meeting, but certainly a very declarative statement coming from the House majority leader a few moments ago saying this is going to happen today.

HARLOW: Sunlen, thank you so much for the great reporting. Stand by. This is all happening, folks, in real time. We're glad you're with us. It's the top of the hour and let's just reset.

A major vote about to get underway on the Republican - the Republican House health care plan.

Phil Mattingly is on The Hill.

[09:59:55] You know, Phil, interesting to note, so a lot of Democrats right now apparently, according to our producer, are retweeting the House Republicans' tweet in 2010 saying, "will Speaker Pelosi wait for the final number for the CBO," meaning the price tag on this, how many people will be covered or won't be covered.