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Next Hour: House Votes on Health Care Repeal; House Votes Next Hour On GOP Health Bill; Trump Hopes for "Wonderful Day And A Wonderful Vote"; Rush to Pence "If This is What Happens Why Vote Republican?"; What Does GOP Health Plan Mean For You; Corker: "Zero" Chance House Bill Clears Senate; House Bill Lays Down Marker For Senate Health Care Debate. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired May 4, 2017 - 12:30   ET


[12:30:00] MATT VISER, DEPUTY BUREAU CHIEF, THE BOSTON GLOBE: I mean, this is the same scenario. And there are the same political risks and Democrats now have potentially the messaging advantage. And as Republican, they're trying to pass this right before they go back to their districts. I mean, imagine next week some of these guys hearing about this from their constituents.

MJ LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: And Diana, of course, is trying to press him on, are you afraid that you might lose the majority, that the majority might go away because of the health care issue. And, you know, it is in the job to exude confidence to say, "No, we are going to hold on to the majority," you know. But an interesting story from yesterday, a bunch of reporters were outside Speaker Ryan's office just waiting around for more guidance. This is the, you know, position that we've become really familiar with in covering health care.

And Elijah Cummings, Democratic Congressman, walked over and said jokingly, "I have an announcement to make. Republicans have the vote that they need to pass this." And his punch line was Democrats are going to take back the House next year. Democrats are very confident at least right now that they're going to be able to use health care to win back the majority.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: It's a fascinating question because, you know, Nancy Pelosi, was speaker when Obamacare was passed. Paul Ryan was in the majority -- I mean, in the minority. He is speaker now and she is the minority leader in part. And I think most Democrats and Republicans would say primarily because of voter backlash to Obamacare.

So let's listen quickly to Nancy Pelosi earlier today who believes that -- Matt, you call it the inverse -- who believes the same thing that happened to Democrats is about to happen to Republicans.


REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) MINORITY LEADER: Today as you know with only hours notice and no CBO score, Republicans are maliciously again attempting to destroy health care and coverage for the American people. 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 congress person said it's OK to take health care away from 24 million people and this could mean you.


KING: The 24 million is from the last CBO report, the score of the original Republican bill. We don't know the numbers on this one. We expect in the next week or so to get those numbers. Who knows if Leader Pelosi is right.

Mostly, the way the House district should draw in the country, history says the President's party loses a little bit in the first midterm but Donald Trump is to fight history up to this point. There's no -- we don't know what's going to happen next year. But through her point that they're casting this vote today blind to a degree.

A reporter is going to come out in the next week or 10days that says X million Americans are going to lose their coverage. The deficit is going to go up or down by this amount. People with pre-existing conditions will be better or worse off. The speaker and the leader, we just heard from with Dana Bash, are asking a lot of members who are in tough districts to do this today with a lot of trust.

PERRY BACON, SENIOR WRITER, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT: You know, John, I don't think they're in the blind. I think they -- the CBO that was $24 million suggests that people who are older, their premiums go up. I think, we know the McArthur limit is not like this way. Giving more people health care is not expanding Medicaid. I think the members generally know the numbers are going to be -- the uninsured number is going to go up some.

They know that it was going to be -- some people are going to lose their insurance. Medicaid will go down. To some members of the Republican conference, you know, Medicaid is striking (ph) as a feature not a bug.

So in a lot of ways, I think that we're looking at a bill that I think follows other core values even if it kind of looks ugly in terms of it might raise some premiums with people. It takes the government out of health care in a certain way.

I think the members actually -- you know, 200 members of this are going to win, no matter -- let's say 150 members are going to win because they're Republican districts. There are probably 30 or 40 who are in danger. But I think most of the ones in danger, they also are going to vote against. They're going to have 20 votes against 18. There's 23 districts where Hillary won in 2016. So I think you'll have the members who are in tough districts who'll be free to vote no.

MARGARET TALEV, BLOOMBERG NEWS: There was a telling moment in that interview, maybe a look ahead, where leader McCarthy without being asked says, "Everyone with Medicaid is going to be fine --

BACON: Which is not at all intuitive. KING: That -- trust me, in every Democratic ad shop in this town, they are rolling on every one of these interviews. They're rolling on what the President says. They're rolling what the leader says because President Obama famously said, "If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If you like your plan, you keep your plan." It didn't turnout that way.

And guess what? Even if this is a plan five years from now, if they pass it five years from now, those good things or works in the first couple of years is going to be disruptive. And e everything they say in the next couple of days is going to come back in political ads next year.

Everybody sit tight. We're having this conversation because a very important hour ahead. The House of Representative debating a Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. Keep priority for the Republican leadership? Keep priority for President Trump? The vote coming up less than an hour away. Stay with us.



[12:38:29] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: Hopefully we're going to have a wonderful day and a wonderful vote and we're going to take care of a lot of people, great, great people from this country with their health care, their health care needs. And we hope to be able to do that and we have all fought very hard to be able to do that.


KING: That's President Trump in the Rose Garden. Last hour, we're watching for a vote in the House of Representatives, a Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. Big vote in the House but also a big day for the President.

Let's go live to the White House with our Senior White House Correspondent, Jim Acosta.

Jim, the President was part of the negotiations yesterday to get this to the finish line. He seemed quite optimistic in the Rose Garden there. How important is this for the President with the context of he wanted this in the first 100 days but he'll take it on day 105, right?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. This is massively important as you know, John, to the President's legacy. He was out in the campaign trail. We heard this time and again at every campaign rally that he is going to repeal and replace Obamacare. And just like the dog that's caught the car, they have finally arrived at this moment where it appears the House of Representatives will pass this bill to do just that.

Now, of course there's lots of questions as to what happens next. I was talking to White House officials over here. They say they are cautiously optimistic that this is going to pass the House today. But I talked to another Republican source who's been close to this process, John, there is some nervousness as to what happens after this vote is taken today. And that is basically about the Congressional Budget Office and what the score is going to be from the CBO in the coming days. It could come next week. It could come a couple of weeks from now.

But when that score comes, it is likely to show that there are going to be some Americans who are going to lose health insurance and that is not going to sit well with a lot of voters out there especially in some of these swing districts.

[12:40:08] And so, you'll have a lot of Republican lawmakers who are being asked to sort of walk the plank and take the plunge here on something that is ultimately going to get changed significantly in the Senate. But this is something that the President has been in hot pursuit of for many, many months now and it is something that they desperately want to see happen over here at the White House.

I will tell you though, John, that when you talk to officials over here that they are very much of the mindset that they are doing the right thing here no matter all these questions about pre-existing conditions. That's been a big subject of conversation over the last 24 hours. I went back and forth with Sean Spicer about this yesterday.

When was talking with the White House official earlier this morning saying, look at what's happening to these health insurers who are jumping out of these insurance markets in counties and states all around the country, they are saying, "Listen, yes, we know that that's an issue with pre-existing conditions, but if you have Obamacare collapsing in these states, then those folks aren't going to have health insurance either."

And so, they feel like they have the momentum on their side. They feel like they have the facts on their side, John. But, you know, the political reality of all of these, once this is passed, we get a CBO score and they start hitting into summer recess and so forth, town halls. This could become a difficult problem for Republicans down the road, John.

KING: It could, Jim. And as the President's negotiating skills were tested first in the collapse effort from six weeks ago, then in the last 24 hours to get this to the finish line, if they get something through the House, then that's what we're going to learn how President Trump if he is LBJ, if he can negotiate a good deal here in Washington as we get through the Senate.

Jim Acosta for us live at the White House. We'll check back as things develop.

To that point, we'll go back to the House as the vote proceeds as we get closer. But let's talk about this in the context of the President for a moment. He did not get a signature legislative achievement through the Congress in his first 100 days. He did get a Supreme Court pick name. He did some other things that he thinks he doesn't get enough credit for. But this was a signature item of the campaign. He didn't get in the first 100 days. He'll get the House vote now. The question is, does he get an Obamacare repeal and replace trophy in the end or they get a participation trophy for getting a House vote? And it sounds a little snarky but that's the question. Can they get further to the finish line?

And in the context of that, in the middle of all this, the President is starting to hear a lot of criticism from his own base. Not on health care so much, although some people do ask, "I thought you were the great negotiator, why didn't we get this?" But as the spending bill has been making its way to the Congress and the Senate will vote today. The House voted yesterday. It doesn't contain a lot of conservative priorities. The conservatives blink (ph) on those big things.

I wanted to show you some of the headlines. The President complains about Democrats. But look at this, this is Townhall, Breitbart, Hotair, the Conservative Review, just savaging the White House for not fighting for its priorities here. These are the President's friends. The Vice President went on the Rush Limbaugh Show. Rush Limbaugh is a polite guy. Usually as the Vice President on, you think he'll be polite, but he is mad too. Listen.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, HOST, RUSH LIMBAUGH SHOW: If this is what happens, Mr. Vice President, why vote Republican? What is the point of voting Republican if the Democrats are going to continue to win practically 95 percent of their objectives such as in this last budget deal?

There isn't anything of the President's agenda in this budget and people are beginning to ask, when's that going to happen? If you're going to shut it down in September, why not now?


RUSH: If you complain about 60 votes today, why not go budget reconciliation for 51 votes and smoke them? Mr. Vice President, we've been told this for 15 years, we'll get them next time after every continuing resolution --

PENCE: Yes. But no, we got them this time.

RUSH: We'll get them next time, we'll kick the can down, we'll get them next time.

PENCE: We got them this time, $21 billion dollars in defense spending.


KING: And again, that's in the context of the budget deal, not the health care vote. But you just hear the exasperation from Rush Limbaugh, you see the criticism in those headlines I showed you from conservative media outlets earlier, where they think this President and the Republican Congress -- let me be cleared, they blame the Republican Congress as much if not more than the president. He's not standing up for their ideas.

That's why this health care vote is so important to this President, to say this is a Republican promise. This is one yes, it's just a House vote, but at least we are finally on the way to getting something big and important to you done.

VISER: The pressure is on, I mean. And another point is how extraordinary has this party changed that was all about deficits and debt reduction that the talking point is look how much spending we got in this, you know, on defense and domestic spending?

But you're right. I mean, this does put the pressure on President Trump to get a victory. And to his credit, I mean, 40 days after this big huge failure in the House, they are going to get a vote. But long term, it's going to get a lot dicier with the Senate, and injecting yet another variable into this scenario to fight.

KING: If his brand is, you know I'll get the politicians to get things done, I'm the negotiator, I can close deals, the record from his own base from the first 100 days and especially this budget vote happening today and yesterday is not so sure, sir. This one's important.

LEE: Yes. And he is going to take a victory lap regardless of what happens to this bill in the Senate. The fact that there is going to be a vote after we all thought that there wouldn't be a vote in the House, that's a big deal.

[12:45:05] But I think the last couple of months have really shown the limitations of President Trump in learning the policy specifics. And I think that's gotten him and his party in trouble a little bit because he's gone out there and said things that are simply not in line with what his fellow Republicans want to accomplish on health care, saying things like this bill is going to be much better than Obamacare and protecting pre-existing conditions. That really sets the bar in a way that was difficult for Republican lawmakers to meet.

BACON: I would give either maybe the Trump, the White House or the Republican Party, I'm not sure who exactly did it, but I think if you could find a bill that's more manageable for -- and the freedom (ph) vote is vote for two. So someone did something strategically intelligent to get to a point where you didn't lose votes from one part or the other. This has been achievement.

Like two months ago, they weren't negotiating really well. They were losing votes all the time and they seemed to have gained votes throughout the week which tells me, you know, the leadership or the White House has figured out something in terms of figuring out where the caucuses are and where to get the votes from.

VISER: But it does sort of feel loosely stitched together.


BACON: I agree. KING: And part of that message today, what we're going to see play out in the next hour was we've promised this for years. The President promised it in his campaign. You must get this train on the tracks. Even if we don't know what the final destination is, you must get it back on track. That's the message for today. It's much more about politics than about policy.

But we're going to take a quick break. When we come back, we'll get to the policy. We'll look at the bill as it now stands and tell you what it means for you.


[12:50:35] KING: Welcome back to "Inside Politics". Live pictures here, the floor of the House of Representatives, Kevin Brady there I believe speaking, Republican Chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee.

The vote is scheduled just moments from now. Early in the next hour, the House will vote on a Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. Republicans say it's a giant step forward. Democrats stay it is a horrendous step back.

Now, chance is the House bill as written becomes law or virtually zero. But it does lay down the marker as the debate would shift next assuming it passes to the Senate. So let's take a look at how it might change your health care. CNN Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen here to help us put things into plain English.

Elizabeth, let's start with this question, one of the giant Republican arguments is that Obamacare and its rules are causing insurers, and we have seen these, insurers to run away, and that these changes will bring insurance companies, meaning more choices into play back in the individual market. Is that true?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there are certain things about this plan, John, that's in front of the House today that actually are more palatable to insurance companies and may make them stick it out in ways that they haven't for Obamacare. So for example, under this new bill, insurance companies can charge five times more for an older person compared to a younger person, whereas under Obamacare they can only do three times more. So, I'm assuming insurance companies, you know, like having the ability to do that.

Also, Obamacare told the insurance companies, you have to include certain things in your policies. X, Y, Z, they had a whole list of things that had to be included. This new bill that's being considered today tells states, "Look, if you don't want to require insurance companies to include all these things, you don't have to." Again, something that insurance companies might find a lot more palatable.

And the other aspect of this that insurance companies might like is that if someone doesn't pay their premiums for 63 days, and so they're uninsured for 63 days, insurance companies can basically charge them whatever they want. So that's another thing that might make insurance companies stick this out more. KING: Another key to the political compromise in the House, Elizabeth, is an $8 billion infusion to create essentially more money into so-called high risk pools. Now, back as the proposal say, that money will protect people with pre-existing conditions if their state decides to change Obamacare protections. Does that -- it's called the Upton Amendment -- does it guarantee an American with a pre-existing condition would have the same coverage, at the same or lower cost than they do now under Obamacare?

COHEN: You know, it doesn't guarantee anything, John. It could be lower than what they're paying under Obamacare. It could be the same, it could be higher. There is no guarantees in there. You know, one concern that we've heard over and over again from experts even right leaning experts is that this $8 billion might not cut it. It might not be enough to keep these high risks pools going.

By definition, these are expensive pools. I mean, these are people who are ill. And so, this concern that this $8 billion is just isn't enough.

KING: Our CNN Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen helping us understand the policy. Elizabeth, thank you very much.

Back in the room here again. We'll keep an eye on the House of Representatives as the debate continues. This is the House. Let's assume that the leadership triple checked its math because they've been embarrassed before, but let's assume they triple checked their math and this is going to pass in the next hour. Then it would go over to the United States Senate.

I want you to listen to Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee who was one of the sort of the center. He's a conservative but a more moderate conservative, one of the people who doesn't like political fireworks, what do you say. So he's asked this morning on MSNBC, if they send this over to the Senate will you guys quickly turn it around?


JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, MSNBC'S MORNING JOE: Is there any chance for an up or down vote in the Senate on the bill as written to get it quickly passed and move quickly pass the issue for Republicans?



CORKER: There's a working group over here of Republicans with, you know, with the range of ideology that are working to see where we go with the bill when it comes across. And I think you're going to see rare responsible, deliberate action on it. People are going to want to improve it. I don't see any way that it goes back in the form that it come.


KING: I mean, welcome to Washington. But this is how it works, the House passes something, then the Senate will do something. But in the Senate, you have the same complications in the sense that you already have the Rand Pauls and the Mike Lees, the more Tea Party libertarian guys saying this is not full repeal of Obamacare. We want full repeal. Then you have your Lisa Murkowskis and your Susan Collins saying, "Wait, this gives -- there's too many people who are going to lose their coverage. This gives states too much leeway." How do they figure it out?

[12:54:58] TALEV: It's all the same divisions without the political pressure to conform. And when you hear Senator Corker use words like responsible or deliberate, what he's also saying is, what they are sending is, is neither responsible nor deliberate.

So, he also said during that interview that he just pulling a data that's in here, there's going to be at least a month, at least one month before there could be any vote, a thorough full month of deliberation within the Senate, unclear exactly when it would start. If that preview tells us anything is that this has got an immediate political consequence but a very unclear policy consequence.

VISER: The margin too, I mean, two senators, you know?

KING: 52-48, right.

VISER: And you have a lot less room for error in the Senate.

KING: I'll give you $100 if the Senate votes on this within a month. I'll give you $100 if the Senate votes on this -- full Senate votes on this within a month, you get $100.

We're going to leave you here. That's it for "Inside Politics". But we're minutes away from that House of vote in repealing and replacing Obamacare. Wolf Blitzer will bring you that. Our special coverage continues in just a moment.