CNN Economic Analyst: Need 'More Government Involvement in Health Care'

The panel on CNN's At This Hour With Kate Bolduan, besides former Rubio presidential campaign communications director Alex Conant, bashed the Republican proposal to replace Obamacare. One of the panelists called for government intervention in healthcare, unaware the law which the GOP seeks to repeal and replace already does so.

"There's a lot of concerns on cost. Let's start by saying that Obamacare was unpopular in many ways because the whole U.S. System is screwed up. You have a mishmash between public and private. The U.S. has the world's most expensive health care system. About 2500 more per capita than Switzerland, which is the next most expensive. Terrible outcomes. I don't think this plan actually moves us away from that," CNN global economic analyst Rana Foroohar said. "I think what we need is economies of scale. I think that that means more government involvement in health care. That's an ideological issue between Republicans and Democrats. That's not what you'll get here. You get rid of individual mandates and employer mandates, you'll get less people. Sicker people staying on the plan and healthier going off of it and that means higher premiums. I don't see the economics working."

Conant defended the proposal and said that it is just a blueprint, therefore the bill will be tweaked. "I don't expect they'd put out a bill today that every Republican would in lock step say, 'Yes, this is the plan I support,'" he said. "Especially after seven years of all these members working on their own plans and own ideal version of what would replace ObamaCare. I do think this is a very good first step. Not only because you have House and Senate leadership united behind this plan but President Trump tweeting out this is a plan they support. If he's able to put his political capital behind this plan, put some shoulder into this plan they can earn those votes but they have to earn them. That's what today was the start of a long campaign to win passage."

Other panelists, like former Clinton adviser Paul Begala, blasted the GOP: "I bet my life House Republicans keep their health care on this. Senate Republicans keep their health care on this. Congressmen and senators, they are not going to kick themselves off, but they're going to kick millions of Americans off." "And that's the political problem they'll face. They'll go home to their town hall meetings and people will say, I work for a living and you work about four days a month and you make me pay for yours? It's untenable politically."

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Other panelists, like former Clinton adviser Paul Begala, cited the apparent lack of Republican votes, such as the hard-line Freedom Caucus, which came out against the proposal.

"I bet my life House Republicans keep their health care on this. Senate Republicans keep their health care on this. Congressmen and senators, they are not going to kick themselves off, but they're going to kick millions of Americans off," Begala said. "And that's the political problem they'll face. They'll go home to their town hall meetings and people will say, I work for a living and you work about four days a month and you make me pay for yours? It's untenable politically."

Bolduan replied, "So far, the answer has not been an answer. You heard [Texas Representative] Kevin Brady say they're going to be increasing access to affordable care for those who want it. That might be great for some, but on the issue of especially access to health care for low-income Americans, this is how congressman Jason Chaffetz answered that question this morning on CNN."

Ironically, President Barack Obama made a statement in 2013 similar to Chaffetz's. "I am not allowed for security reasons to have an iPhone...The idea that you wouldn't want to make sure that you've got the health security and financial security [before you purchase an iPhone]...you guys are smarter than that," he said.

CNN political reporter Nia-Malika Henderson said that Trump is "going to figure this out." 

"But a lot of what he's going to be hearing today, I think is going to be comments like Jason Chaffetz. He's been watching Fox & Friends and tweet back at the screen talking about expanding state -- so you can buy coverage across the states which, guess what, is already offered. This idea that somehow that's going to be the quick fix to ObamaCare and quick fix to the health care industry and insurance industry is sort of ludicrous because a lot of states have tried that and it doesn't work," she added.

Here is the March 7th exchange:

At This Hour With Kate Bolduan

 

03/7/2017

11:24:53 AM –  11:32:47 AM

KATE BOLDUAN: My panel, Mark Preston is here with me. Gut check. Greg Walden, Kevin Brady, they think it's great. They think it's -- they have -- probably didn't say perfect but this is what they've got. Here is the big replacement and the big reveal. Can it get to the President's desk? 

MARK PRESTON: In its current form, absolutely not. It's not even democratic opposition. It's the Republican opposition. Not only in their own chamber but from what we're seeing from United States senators across the capitol. 

BOLDUAN: It's for various reasons. Rhonda, one of the big questions is how much is this going to cost? You heard from the lawmakers. They don't need that cost estimate from the CBO. That will come later. If they're working without it right now is that telling? 

RANA FOROOHAR: There's a lot of concerns on cost. Let's start by saying that Obamacare was unpopular in many ways because the whole U.S. System is screwed up. You have a mishmash between public and private. The U.S. has the world's most expensive health care system. About 2500 more per capita than Switzerland, which is the next most expensive. Terrible outcomes. I don't think this plan actually moves us away from that. I think what we need is economies of scale. I think that that means more government involvement in health care. That's an ideological issue between Republicans and Democrats. That's not what you'll get here. You get rid of individual mandates and employer mandates, you'll get less people. Sicker people staying on the plan and healthier going off of it and that means higher premiums. I don't see the economics working. 

BOLDUAN: There's one tough problem. The other is markets, too. Simply numbers. I'm talking about the vote count in the Senate. The vote count in the House. If you are losing the House Freedom Caucus. You already have Republican senators coming out of the Senate saying they have an issue. If they can't get there, they have the heritage foundation coming out against it. Where are they? 

ALEX CONANT: This is the beginning of the process. I don't expect they'd put out a bill today that every Republican would in lock step say, “Yes, this is the plan I support.” Especially after seven years of all these members working on their own plans and own ideal version of what would replace ObamaCare. I do think this is a very good first step. Not only because you have House and Senate leadership united behind this plan but President Trump tweeting out a plan this is a plan they support. If he's able to put his political capital behind this plan, put some shoulder into this plan they can earn those votes but they have to earn them. That's what today was the start of a long campaign to win passage. 

BOLDUAN: The most important thing other than everything you say is important. One of the most important things there is if the President -- if he puts some skin in the game. I get the sense from Republicans so far they haven't seen it. And that is a concern. The statement coming from the white house so far. We read -- we read that tweet. I read you the tweet from the president saying “our wonderful new health care bill is out for review and negotiation.” The white house putting out a statement yesterday from Sean Spicer, the Senate. President Trump looks forward to working with both chambers of Congress to repeal and replace ObamaCare. Is he really sticking his neck out for this? 

KAYLEIGH MCENANY: I think he is. There's a lot of intentional positioning going on behind the scenes. He did call it our bill. He did call it wonderful. He is endorsing the bill. This bill was intentionally put out in a form less than appealing to the conservative hard liners to the house freedom caucus because what was so interesting about the president's tweet is he called it a negotiation. What does the Art of the Deal tell us? You put forward the strictest most hard line position and negotiate and give a little. Don't put out like for instance, crossing state lines, allowing insurance companies to cross state lines. Allow that to be something you give to conservatives. There's a lot of conservative proposals not put in this because those will be the carrots given to the conservative wing of the party to ultimately get the votes needed. 

BOLDUAN: Paul Begala, Democratic strategist. From a communications standpoint if you have conservatives calling this “Obamacare Lite,” how do you beat back that narrative? 

PAUL BEGALA: As they move to the right, Kayleigh is almost certainly correct this will move to the right. Then they're going lose votes in the middle. A lot of Senate Republicans who are worried this will cripple the Medicaid expansion in their state. But the fundamental thing is they still can't tell us two questions. Two most important. How much does it cost? Who does it cover? We don't know yet. And we'll find that out in time. They'll score this. We shouldn't debate it until they have. Before the Congressional Budget Office has reviewed the bill, I bet my life House Republicans keep their health care on this. Senate Republicans keep their health care on this. Congressmen and senators, they are not going to kick themselves off, but they're going to kick millions of Americans off. And that's the political problem they'll face. They'll go home to their town hall meetings and people will say, I work for a living and you work about four days a month and you make me pay for yours? It's untenable politically. 

BOLDUAN: And that is one question that's already, Nia Mallika, join us here, that Republicans are facing. How many are more or less Americans going to be covered on the plan? So far, the answer has not been an answer. You heard Kevin Brady say they're going to be increasing access to affordable care for those who want it. That might be great for some, but on the issue of especially access to health care for low-income Americans, this is how congressman Jason Chaffetz answered that question this morning on CNN. 

[ROLL TAPE]

JASON CHAFFETZ: Americans have choices. And they've got to make a choice. Maybe rather than getting that new iPhone they love and want to spend hundreds of dollars on. Maybe they should invest that in their own health care. They have to make those decisions themselves. 

BOLDUAN: He's trying to clean up -- already trying to clean up those remarks, but are remarks like that going to come back to bite him? 

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON: I think so. It might come back to bite him in terms of Donald Trump. Donald Trump has been the one thing that he wants people covered. He doesn't want to see people dying on the street and not having health care. So I think to his ears, that might not sound so great. In terms of entitlement reform and being a compassionate conservative, in the way he has talked about Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, he has said he doesn't want any cuts on that. It's going to be a problem when he starts to hear people talk like that and hear all of it that people might be kicked off of Medicaid, the most vulnerable people in some of these states. And red states like West Virginia. Red states like Ohio. Red states like Kentucky who have expanded Medicaid. This is the part of the ObamaCare debate that hasn't been discussed as much. 10 million folks have been covered because of that Medicaid expansion. And it looks like when folks talk about it, the congressman we heard today, they are focusing on middle-class people. And ObamaCare has been tough and toughest in terms of middle-class people who don't necessarily qualify for the Medicaid expansion. May be in different states where they didn't expand Medicaid. So in many ways it seems like a lot of this is tailored to those folks. It also seems like seniors might have to pay more because, remember, the individual mandate was really designed to spread around the sort of expense and cost of this to make older folks be able to get into this system. So, you know, Donald Trump is going to negotiate. He's going to figure this out. But a lot of what he's going to be hearing today, I think is going to be comments like Jason Chaffetz. He's been watching Fox & Friends and tweet back at the screen talking about expanding state -- so you can buy coverage across the states which, guess what, is already offered. This idea that somehow that's going to be the quick fix to Obamacare and quick fix to the health care industry and insurance industry is sort of ludicrous because a lot of states have tried that and it doesn't work. If you're in New York, you don't -- you're not going to want to buy health insurance in Mississippi because a health insurance plan isn't going to want to have the cost and sort of expense of putting together a network in New York. So it's -- the devil is in the details. We'll figure are those out going forward. 

 

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