Meadows: Don't want to replace ObamaCare with failed program

Congressman discusses the efforts to repeal and replace the health law


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," March 1, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST:  All right, there is a back and forth in this battle on Capitol Hill about repealing and replacing Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act.

And it divides Republicans who are concerned about just producing a lighter or smaller version of what is already a pretty big old government program, and they don't want to do that.  

Mark Meadows is in that camp, a member of the House Freedom Caucus, the chairman there.  

And I guess your concern, Chairman, is that you don't want to replace a big omnibus thing with a slightly less big omnibus thing.  And what you think Paul Ryan is doing, and maybe with the best of intentions, is just that. Right?   

REP. MARK MEADOWS, R-NORTH CAROLINA:  Well, we don't.  We don't want to put one failed government program in the place of one that potentially will fail as well.

And so when we look at that, Neil, I think the commitment from House Republicans, whether they be moderates or conservatives, is really looking at a real repeal, a real replacement that drives down health care costs.  

For me, I can tell you that, when we look at a new entitlement program, which this tax credit that doesn't have a means test to it, means that me, as a member of Congress, I would get just as much of a tax credit as the hardworking manufacturing guy that is making $40,000 a year.  

I don't think that's fair.  It's not something that we should be doing. And so ultimately we have got to address some of those thorny issues.  But I can tell you, we're committed to do that.  

I have had conversations with the administration, Neil, where literally we're trying to fine-tune it and hone in on what an answer will be.  We do know it will cover preexisting conditions.  We do know that insurance companies will not be able to kick people off.

CAVUTO:  But you don't want this whole tax credit thing, right, because the reason why -- the administration seems to be aligned I think more with Speaker Ryan.  And I could be misinterpreting that, Chairman.

If I am, please correct me.  But if that is the case, then this could be a big deal, because it could delay not only resolving this issue, but those tax cuts that we talked about with the treasury secretary, right?  

MEADOWS:  Well, you know and I know that getting a tax reform and lowering those tax rates and making sure that happens is so incredibly important that we have got to do that.  We're committed to do that.  

I told you here -- we broke the news here that it was going to happen before we leave home for August.  I still remain confident that we are going to do that.  But the other part of that is, is, we didn't promise the American people that we were going to give a tax increase or charge people with good coverage in order to pay for something, some other government program.  

We didn't promise the American people that.  The president didn't promise that.  And so we have got to way to do this fiscally sound, but also make sure that what we're doing is not exacerbating an already failing death spiral of our health insurance market.  

CAVUTO:  But it sounds bigger than that.  

I know Politico is reporting that your wife, Debbie, has been encouraging Republicans to call Paul Ryan's office and the White House to essentially protest this House plan, I assume the credit plan.  So, this sounds pretty divisive.  

MEADOWS:  Well, it's not as divisive as perhaps what is being reported at this point.  

I think what happens is that everybody...

CAVUTO:  But is she doing that, sir?  

MEADOWS:  You know, what happened is, there was a private e-mail that went to 15 people.  

My wife was looking to support her husband.  And when you look at that, Neil, she's a taxpayer and has her own opinion.  

And, as I look at that, that's one of those things that obviously she sees that I have great concern about this particular replacement bill, the way that it is today, Neil.  And so we have got to figure out a way to do that. I know I met with Secretary Price today to try to find some common ground. And I believe that we can do that.  

CAVUTO:  All right, we will watch very, very closely, Chairman.

Congressman, thank you very, very much, Mark Meadows from North Carolina.  

MEADOWS:  Thank you, Neil.  

CAVUTO:  Of course, that has to be resolved, remember, before they can even touch those tax cuts.  That is an August issue.  


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