ObamaCare repeal and replace price tag raises concerns

The 'Special Report' All-Star panel weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," March 13, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


the CBO is going to say if you're not going to force people to buy
something they don't want to buy, they won't buy it. But at the same time,
they are saying our reforms will kick in lower premiums and make health
care therefore more accessible.

President Trump of the Republicans have their way, there would be 24
million more Americans without health insurance. A total of 58 million
Americans living in this country ten years from now will not have health
coverage. That's not American. That's wrong.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Chuck Schumer reacting to the CBO numbers out today, Congressional
Budget Office. Just to put up some stats from the report about the
Republican plan, first the effects on the federal budget. The GOP Bill
would reduce federal deficits by $337 billion over 2017 to 2026. Largest
savings coming from reductions in Medicaid. Largest costs would come from
repealing many of the tax increases and fees under Obamacare. Outlays
would be reduced by $1.2 trillion. Revenues would be reduced by $0.9

Now the effects on health insurance numbers. These are the numbers the
Democrats obviously are jumping on. In 2018, 14 million more people would
be uninsured under this legislation. In 2020 that goes to 21 million,
2026, 24 million more uninsured. So you have a lot of numbers there.

Then CBO report effect on premiums, 2018 and 2019, this bill would tend to
increase the average premiums in the non-group market. The average
premiums for single holders would be 15 percent to 20 percent higher, but
then it would lower them by roughly 10 percent by 2026 than the current

I know it's a lot of numbers and people glaze over, but those are the stats
and the figures from this report. What does it all mean? Let's bring in
the panel: Mollie Hemingway, senior editor at The Federalist; Hadas Gold,
media reporter for Politico, and Byron York, chief political
correspondent for The Washington Examiner.

Everybody is all scared of
snow, but I tell you there are some Republicans, Mollie, that are scared of
this report. And they knew it was going to be bad. Speaker Ryan says he's

MOLLIE HEMINGWAY, THE FEDERALIST: It's saying that in this plan it would
be cheaper and lead to lower premiums but a higher number of uninsured
people relative to Obamacare, which had a lower number of uninsured people
but was much more expensive.

But there's also an issue of CBO estimates. They are very notoriously bad.
Think back to 2010 when they said that under Obamacare you would have 23
million Americans insured. It's actually 12 million this year. And they
also made a forecasting error so they dramatically underestimated the cost
of Medicaid. So we need to keep these things in mind as we are talking
about this scoring as well.

BAIER: Yes, and it's also important to point out, Hadas, that as they
pitch it, it is a three-phase thing, whether that's realistic or not. The
second phase is Secretary Price of HHS, here is his reaction outside the
White House this afternoon.


HHS SECRETARY TOM PRICE: They also ignored completely the other
legislative activities that we'd be putting into place that would make
certain that we have an insurance market that actually works. So we
disagree strenuously with the report that was put out. We believe our plan
will cover more individuals at a lower cost and give them the choices that
they want for the coverage they want for themselves and their family, not
that the government forces them to buy.


BAIER: So just to translate, they are saying they are going to put in some
of these market incentives in the third phase which would be another piece
of legislation.

HADAS GOLD, POLITICO: Right. And this CBO report, it seems as though
there something in it for everybody to hate in a way. It was a little bit
confusing because we have the administration folks coming out saying they
strenuously disagree. Then we have Paul Ryan tweeting out, Paul Ryan and
his staff tweeting all these things they really like about it.

What's interesting that I didn't realize until today was that Tom Price
actually is the one who put the current CBO director in his position, Keith
Hall. So there's a history there as well. But clearly with all of these
numbers, it's really hard for a lot of people, everyday people who don't
follow this every day, to follow. And what's going to be hard to sell is
to get over the numbers the Democrats are going to be pushing, these
millions of people are going to be losing their insurance, potentially.

BAIER: What we don't hear from the Democrats, however, Byron, is what
their solution is as Obamacare is collapsing and we hear that insurance
companies are going to leave this year.

BYRON YORK, THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Well, during the campaign, Hillary
Clinton and other Democrats gave their solution, which was more federal
funding for it. But I give Paul Ryan an A for effort in that interview
with you by saying this is a really great. But it's a terrible report.
The idea of losing 24 million people off the coverage rules, voluntarily or
otherwise, it's a bad thing. And even if they are off by half, it is still
a bad thing.

And Ryan is trying to turn this into some sort of positive good by saying
this is what freedom looks like. Obamacare offered people a bad product
which they didn't want to buy, and we're going to offer them a product
which more of them won't want to buy. It's not a solution, which I think
what is going to happen is if this thing can pass in the House and it does
go over to the Senate where they just rewrite the whole darn thing and see
what happens.

BAIER: Here is Senator Tom Cotton from Arkansas this weekend.


SEN. TOM COTTON, R-ARK.: Do not walk the plank and vote for a bill
that cannot pass the Senate and then have to face the consequences of that
vote. I'm afraid if they vote for this bill they are going to put the
House majority at risk next year.


BAIER: Democrats call this the BTU-ing. They House votes for something
that's unpopular. At that point it was eight BTU tax increase. And then
the Senate doesn't pass it and then those House people who voted for it
fall on their swords in the next election which comes every two years. Ten
Republicans make this a binary choice. If you do it, fine. If you don't,
you are essentially letting Obamacare collapse and we can't move forward.

HEMINGWAY: They are certainly trying to make it into a binary choice but
they're not dealing with any of the underlying problems that anyone in the
Republican caucus opposes this bill seems to have. And just even on
something as simple as Medicaid expansion, when you're looking at how
you've had these proposals for putting everybody on the Medicaid expansion.
We haven't even looked at whether health care insurance is the same thing
as health care.

And you look at Medicaid, the landmark Medicaid study in Oregon that showed
that when you were on Medicaid you had no better health outcomes than if
you have no insurance at all. There are other studies that show you might
even have worse health care outcomes if you are not on Medicaid -- if you
have no insurance than if you have Medicaid. Nothing in here, nothing
about the CBO estimate, nothing that we are talking about actually deals
with these large-scale structural problems. And if people are going to
have to lose elections over this it would be nice if they at least had
something worthwhile to be losing over. And I don't think this is what
they are being offered.

BAIER: Here is President Trump at the White House today.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The House bill to repeal
and replace Obamacare will provide you and your fellow citizens with more
choices, far more choices, at lower costs. Americans should pick the plan
they want. Now they will be able to pick the plan they want. They will be
able to pick the doctor they want.

I tell Paul Ryan, I tell every one of them, I say the best thing you can do
politically is wait a year because it's going to blow itself off the map.
But that is the wrong thing to do for the country. It's the wrong thing to
do for our citizens.


BAIER: Adding to that a tweet, Hadas, "Obamacare is imploding. It is a
disaster. 2017 will be the worst year yet by far. Republicans will come
together and save the day." The question is how much President Trump is
going to put into the effort to get it across the finish line.

GOLD: That's the real question. I'm actually surprised the man who was
the king of branding, he put his name on steaks and ties and everything
else, we don't really hear his name attached to the health care bill as

BAIER: Democrats do say "Trumpcare" a lot.

GOLD: They do, they do. But the administration, I've heard varying things
about it. I think what Trump is probably paying attention to and is
keeping his eye on is what his base is reacting to. And we are seeing some
of them come out in talk radio land, on certain sites, certain people who
have established themselves as part of the Trump base not being big fans of
this. And I am sure he is seeing them describe it as Obamacare-lite, and
that's not something that he probably likes to see.

BAIER: Some of the biggest fans are calling it Ryan-care, actually.

YORK: Probably more accurate. I think the Republicans created this
problem for themselves when they talked for seven years about repealing
every single word of Obamacare. Now they are in power. They have a
Republican president. They actually have to do it, and they never in that
time until now agreed on an actual plan to do it. And now you actually see
why they didn't. It was very hard. And they didn't really have a good
plan. So here again, I think you're going to see, and this happen with
Obamacare as well, a Bill going from the House to the Senate and getting
really rewritten.

BAIER: Percent of chance that something gets through Congress to President
Trump's desk?

YORK: It's 75.

GOLD: That's high. It's 55.

HEMINGWAY: I'm not making any bets.

BAIER: You are in the Steve Hayes chair. That's what he does.

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