Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Interview with Representative Tom Reed; Interview with Senator Bob Casey; Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired May 4, 2017 - 10:30   ET

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


[10:30:00] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: So you're leaning yes. Is this a hard vote for you?

REP. TOM REED (R), NEW YORK: No, we've had a chance to study the bill. And I'm very comfortable where it's at. And moving this fast and forward is a good step for the American people so I'm a yes on this bill.

HARLOW: OK.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Are you comfortable with how it addresses the problems and the issues dealing with people with pre-existing conditions?

REED: I am. When I've read the legislative text, and we're talking primarily about waiver authority to states. Now given a state like New York in particular, I'm very comfortable that my commitment to honor the pre-existing condition reforms of the Affordable Care Act are going to go forward and will take care of those individuals in a better way.

HARLOW: So you're saying you're betting that the state of New York will not ask for a waiver. That's why you're a yes, is that right?

REED: Yes. Knowing the policies of New York that makes me more comfortable to be supportive of this bill.

HARLOW: OK.

REED: But even on top of it, looking at the waiver language and what the Department of Health has to approve in order to get that waiver, I believe the issue about pre-existing condition is just not there in the substance of the bill.

HARLOW: But just, Congressman, all the states with these waivers need to prove to HHS to get a waiver is that having pre-existing conditions covered will raise premiums. And we know they do. So that's actually not a high bar for getting a waiver and it's going to be Tom Price, the HHS secretary, who approves it.

REED: Well, I disagree with that analysis. As I've read the bill and looking at the legislative text, what we're looking at is making health insurance more affordable, more accessible for folks. In particular people who have pre-existing conditions. BERMAN: Well, that -- hang on. It makes health care perhaps more

affordable for people without pre-existing conditions but if a state opts out of the community rating, which guarantees the same rate for people with pre-existing conditions as healthy people, it means that people with pre-existing conditions will be in a completely different situation. They could use high-risk pools. Every time high-risk pools have been used it has led to higher rates for people inside the pools and also more government spending. So there are changes that your vote will mean for states that do opt out of the community rating. You do acknowledge that?

REED: Well, sure. It gives a greater flexibility for the states. And, obviously, that issue has to be dealt with state by state. I'm confident in New York that this will be not an issue and that we're going to move forward in the process to get America's health care system working again.

HARLOW: It sounds like you're saying if you were a congressman from a different state -- I don't want to play with hypotheticals here, but it really sounds like you're saying that you wouldn't be comfortable with this because you know that in other states that do ask for these waivers can do so just because pre-existing conditions covered would raise premiums and then you do have folks potentially paying a whole lot more for coverage if they have something they cannot control in terms of a pre-existing condition.

REED: No, what it -- being from the state of New York gives me additional assurance that the pre-existing condition issue is just not there in substance. The actual base text, the actual legislation as I read it and look at it, and as we go through this process, I think pre-existing condition, as the president has made clear, will be in these reforms as we get it signed into law.

BERMAN: How do you know how many people with pre-existing conditions will be covered and how much they will be covered without a CBO score?

REED: Well, you know, obviously, we have the base score that CBO is out there.

HARLOW: Yes.

REED: And when you get into scoring, especially at the Congressional Budget Office, making assumptions as to what state will apply for a waiver, which one will not, that is all speculative, at best, in my opinion.

BERMAN: But it's their job. But it's their job. I mean, that's what they do. They make these difficult measurements and they take these things into consideration. The base core you talked about specifically does not have either the McArthur or Upton amendment in it. So you had 24 million people -- 24 million fewer people who would be without insurance. That's even before these amendments. That's even before you started dealing with waivers for people with pre- existing conditions.

REED: And that's a fair criticism. And I hear that criticism. And, obviously, we just have to deal with the situation. The vote is scheduled today. We're going to move forward on it. And I'm comfortable looking at the base text and now I have to make a commonsense decision on behalf of the people we represent in western New York.

HARLOW: So because we don't have a CBO score, and you guys, in all fairness, could wait. You could wait just like your speaker demanded that Democrats wait until they had a CBO score in 2009 on Obamacare. And you could wait to vote. You're not going to do that. Have you the momentum, you think you have votes, you're going to vote today. But are you then comfortable with knowing that the most recent CBO score that we have, without these amendments, as John pointed out, still means 24 million Americans -- more Americans without coverage, over the decade. Are you comfortable with that?

REED: I'm comfortable with that because what the score was looking at is when you have the mandate of the existing law, it assumes everyone's going to get coverage essentially. With this given flexibility, we recognize the reality of the world. And under the existing law you have a lot of folks with coverage because it's just not accessible and affordable.

BERMAN: Congressman Tom Reed from New York, thank you very much for your time, sir. Appreciate the discussion and the back and forth. It's an important subject and we appreciate it.

All right. House leaders, they are confident that they have the votes to repeal and replace Obamacare. You're looking at live pictures right now. The vote you're looking at right now is on the rule. This is will definitely pass.

HARLOW: Not the main event.

BERMAN: No controversy about this one.

[10:35:02] This will pass. Then there will be another vote. That was going to be a lot closer but they are confident. Then it goes to the Senate, which means Democrats and Republicans there will take it on. We spoke to one Democrat a short time ago. He's not so sure about things. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BOB CASEY (D), PENNSYLVANIA: This is a fraud, this bill. And we're going to fight it with all we have.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: All right. We are watching the House of Representatives. This is a vote on the rule on the measure to repeal and replace Obamacare. This is the very first action you will see on what could be a very historic day in the House of Representatives.

HARLOW: A very historic day in the House of Representatives. But if this gets past the House, well, then it heads to the Senate and it will face some very different and pretty steep challenges in the Senate to get enough votes.

[10:40:09] Can they do it? We spoke with Pennsylvania Democratic Senator Bob Casey a short time ago.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: Senator, if this bill passes the House today, what do you think happens in the Senate?

CASEY: I'm not certain about what will happen, but I'm going to fight it with everything I have. So I think there'll be a lot of opposition. I just can't -- I don't have a sense of the Republican caucus.

HARLOW: All right. So you say you're going to fight it with everything you have. For the American people, fighting only helps them if it gets to a solution that is better. And you will admit, I know, as a Democrat, there are problems with the current system, Obamacare, for a number of folks. What would get you to a yes in the Senate as changes happen? If it makes it through the House, what gets you to a yes?

CASEY: Well, nothing gets me to yes because they want to repeal it. They're going to decimate Medicaid. They're going to cause the loss of health insurance to millions of people. Last count, 24 million people. I'm not going to play any part in that. So if they want to have a big fight about protecting people with disabilities in their health care and making sure that children have health care, I'll fight until the end of the earth on that.

BERMAN: But the current system as it stands now in it of itself is far from perfect as well, Senator Casey. Aetna just announced it's pulling out of individual market because they're projecting a $200 million loss. Iowa Aetna and Blue Cross and Blue Shield, they're going to stop selling policies next year. If you do nothing then people continue to lose insurance as well.

CASEY: Let's start with what's working, OK? 20 million people have health care. Newly enrolled in health care. Over 150 million Americans have much better health care because they have protections they never had before. So that's -- that's a reality.

The Medicaid program has worked well for lots of families across the country. Understand what they're doing here. They're decimating medicate. They're going to take away, rip away health care to lots of folks and they're going to close a lot of hospitals in rural areas. So I'm not going to let that happen.

Now if they take repeal off the table and say we want to fix some of the problems that might be in the individual market or if you have, for example, in rural areas, if you don't have a -- if you don't have more than one insurer, sure, we should -- we should talk about maybe introducing a Medicare-like public option to create some competition. But let's remember what has happened here. A lot more people have

better coverage and a lot of people have coverage they never had before. The Medicaid program is protecting a lot of families. All of that gets undermined if not decimated by what they're trying to do here.

HARLOW: But, Senator, as John really importantly pointed out, just yesterday, Aetna, huge insurance provider, said they're totally pulling out of Virginia. Their losses this year projected upwards of $200 million.

You've got Iowa on the verge of possibly not having any of these insurers in the individual exchanges if one more Minnesota-based plan provider pulls out. Isn't that part of what Republicans point to as a collapse? Wouldn't that mean more people uninsured if those providers pull out?

CASEY: One of the driving forces for the problems in those markets what Republicans have already done, they passed legislation a couple of years ago that made it much more difficult for insurance companies to provide coverage. Republicans have already undermined this bill, this legislation. President Trump has stated that he wants to undermine this legislation. They're not just rooting for failure. They're creating failure every day of the week, in HHS, in the administration.

So if they to want talk about fixing or at least improving things that aren't working, now that's fine. But as long as they have repeal on the table to wipe out everything and to start over -- by the way, this pre-existing condition proposal is a joke. And everyone knows it. That's a joke. To mislead the American people -- to mislead people to think that they're going to have the kind of protections on pre- existing conditions that they have now, they will not. And states can take it away. And states have to balance their budget. So if you push everything off to the states on pre-existing conditions, on Medicaid, guess what's going to get cut? Both of those. So this is -- this is a fraud, this bill, and we're going to fight it with all we have.

BERMAN: Senator, we're running out of time here. I want to ask you something about you've spent a lot of time on the last 24 hours and that's really fighting with the federal government over the deportation of a mother and her 5-year-old son who had been here since 2015. They had come from Honduras because they thought the situation was too dangerous there.

You wrote yesterday, "We shouldn't turn our back on a vulnerable 5- year-old boy and his mother who may very well die if they get on that plane."

You know, you spoke to the president's chief of staff yesterday. They seem to be gone. They seem to have been deported already. What's your reaction?

[10:45:06] CASEY: Well, my reaction is I think it was the wrong -- the wrong thing to do for the administration. Neither this mother or her 5-year-old child is in any way a threat to the American people. Number one. Number two is I think it's a unique case because this mother witnessed a murder and then was -- then came to the United States, has been here since 2015. She's going to go back into that very dangerous circumstance. Her life could be threatened. And her -- and the life of her child.

There's no reason why the administration, Homeland Security, couldn't have come up with a better solution here. So I'm going to be continuing to follow this case to make sure that we do everything we can to protect this mother and her child, even though they've already been deported. And also ask a lot of questions about a number of other families that are still under threat of deportation. Mothers and their children. If that's what we call Homeland Security, then we're not doing -- this administration is not really protecting the country.

This kind of action undermines the national security. It doesn't help it. And if they think that we're done asking questions, I'm just getting warmed up.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARLOW: All right. And just a few moments ago, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly responded directly to the senator's claims. He said that he did return Senator Casey's calls but the two have not connected yet. He maintains that ICE was enforcing the law in this case and he actually expressed anger at how he believes this case has played out in the public. Kelly says he's going to try to continue to reach Senator Casey today.

BERMAN: All right. We are watching the House floor right now. The votes to repeal and replace Obamacare. This is the vote on the rule.

We're also waiting to hear from House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, the lead Democrat in Congress, to address reporters on this health care bill. When that happens, we'll bring it to you live.

HARLOW: All right. And if the House vote on health care was not enough breaking news for you this morning, the president is about to speak at an event in the Rose Garden. We will take you there live. Next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:51:13] REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), MINORITY LEADER: 26. Team 26. I'm so honored they gave me a shirt. Team 26 is in honor of the 26 children who -- the 20 children and six teachers who were killed at Sandy Hook School. Every year this bicycle ride starts in this area, in the Washington area, and bikes up to Newtown. It's a constant reminder and inspiration, the question that people asked at the time, well, if they're going to kill 20 little children in first grade, that must have a reaction in Congress. Of course, it did not. 20 children, six of their brave teachers and supervisors.

So, again, we'll never forget. We'll never stop our work on this subject. And even today, a day where the focus is on the Republican attempts to take health care away, we will keep the focus on just give us a vote. We think that there is bipartisan support for background checks in the Congress. We have bipartisan support that we know of, we just want them to give us a vote.

I keep reminding my colleagues, if this is about their political survival, their political survival means nothing compared to the survival of 20 children in first grade in Newtown and their teachers.

Today as know with only hours' notice and no CBO score, Republicans have maliciously again attempting to destroy health care and coverage for the American people. This is really almost, I would say, a welcomed debate. I would hope that they realize that this is really bad for the country, but I do say that it is good in one respect. It's going to provide a great civics lesson for America.

Let's face it, as important as we think we are when we're in Congress, most people don't even know who their Congress person is in many places. And now they'll find out. They will find out that their Congress person voted to take away their health care. They will find out that their congressperson forced families to pay higher premiums and deductibles, increasing out-of-pocket costs.

They will find out that their congressperson said it's OK to take health care away from 24 million people and this could mean you. They will find out that their Congress person voted to gut key protections. Trumpcare destroys protections for pre-existing conditions, yes, it does. But not only that, it guts essential health benefits such as maternity care, prenatal, health prescription drug, emergency coverage. The list goes on and on. And they will find out that they're between 50 and 64, that their congressperson voted to make them pay a premium five times higher than others pay for health coverage no matter how healthy they are.

And they will find out that in addition to that crushing age tax that it steals from Medicare. You know, most of Americans will say, don't mess with my Medicare? They're messing with the Medicare. So that's what they are doing today. All of this for what purpose? All of this to give a $600 billion transfer of money from working families to the richest corporations and people in our country. That's why they're timing it this way. It's been timed to get that money to give a tax cut. It's really -- it's really stunning. And that's why I'm so pleased that so many organizations have made their voices heard on this.

[10:55:09] I just want to spend a -- half a moment, really, on the -- this bill. The first bill, 56-17 American people disapproved of it so they couldn't pass it. So what did they do? Make matters worse. They went further to the left. So while they eventually got a CBO report on their first bill, when CBO comes out on this, it's going to be even worse because the bill goes in the wrong direction.

And in terms of the fraudulent representation that they're making that this is about pre-existing conditions protect, they are -- it's not even -- it's so untrue. And let me just quote some people. Now Republicans are again fraudulently claiming the Upton amendment covers Americans with pre-existing conditions. It does not. Robert Graboyes, health care expert at the conservative Mercatus

Center, conservative center, said the amendment at hand focuses on high-risk pools, but the $8 billion amount is a pittance. Spread over five years, it's a fifth of a pittance.

You have the president of the United States say it's more money than we'll ever -- than we need. He doesn't even know what he's talking about.

And then Karen Pollitz, a health care expert at the Kaiser Family Foundation, she said it would cover the costs for only 1 percent of those in the individual market. They're big on 1 percent, whether it's money for the 1 percent or health care for the 1 percent, where we'd like that to be 100 percent.

Under Trumpcare, Americans with pre-existing conditions will be pushed off their insurance, segregated into high-risk pools, and they will face soaring costs, worse coverage, and restricted care. It's serious and it's very frightening.

This disastrous bill has been condemned by almost everyone. They have no support. And let me just read you a list of some, and I think you have where we've -- whether you have it there or electronically, but among the list. American Medical Association, American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, American Society of Clinical Oncology, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, AIDS United, the Children's Hospital Association, AARP, the March of Dimes. The list goes on and on and on.

But Trumpcare was never about strengthening the health care of the American people. It was all about a tax break for the wealthiest people in our country. As I said, the CBO score for the original Trumpcare bill was devastating enough. Forcing a vote without an updated CBO score shows that the Republicans are terrified. They're terrified of the facts of what the CBO report would say.

They're afraid of the truth of what it means to American people, and people are understanding what this means to them. And they're afraid to -- they're afraid that the American people will realize that they're destroying health care just because of another tax break to the high end. The biggest transfer of wealth -- one of the biggest transfers of wealth in our history, Robin Hood in reverse, the middle class and those who aspire to it to the wealthiest.

Republicans are in a lose-lose situation. They'll lose if they don't bring it up and win -- and it doesn't win. They really lose if they pass it because then you can clearly say this is not an intention, this is a decision that they have made and acted upon -- voted upon. And it is not in -- they are deluding themselves into thinking that they can hide the truth or hide from their constituents when they take their votes.

So we welcome them to this great civics class. As you can see, since the election, there's been a heightened interest in what goes on in public policy and how it affects people in their personal lives. We look forward to having that debate.

Any questions? Yes, ma'am. Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Are you encouraging any sort of (INAUDIBLE)?

PELOSI: No. Any disruption would only give them more time to try to get their votes, which they may or may not have, but no. Yes, ma'am.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: A lot of members (INAUDIBLE) that they're trusting the Senate to (INAUDIBLE). I was wondering do you think there's any chance it will be improved in the Senate?

PELOSI: Well, let me just say, they have this vote tattooed on them. This is a scar they will carry. So it isn't -- it's their vote.