Interviews

Sen. Bill Cassidy: Society is going to pay for healthcare

On 'Your World,' the Louisiana senator says President Trump's campaign pledge is the main sticking point

 

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," May 3, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: It's just a matter of math right here now. Financially, it's not sustainable the way it is. Now, there are a lot of ways to fix it and address it. And a lot of Republicans think they have an idea. Democrats they have their own ideas, as long as Republicans don't push repeal. But we will see.

We have Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy with us right now.

Senator, thanks for taking the time.

Is it your sense, sir, that we're going to see a health care vote maybe as soon as tomorrow?

SEN. BILL CASSIDY, R-LOUISIANA: Neil, your guess is as good as mine. They're fairly close. But there are still sticking points.

I think the main sticking point is President Trump's campaign pledge. He wanted everybody covered, caring for those with preexisting conditions, without mandates and lowering premiums. And unless they can lower premiums, I think there's a lot of folks who have a lot of doubts about what they're voting on.

CAVUTO: One of the things I noticed in this attempt to win over some reluctant congressmen has been this push to try to cover and make sure that those with preexisting conditions are covered.

Those were the overtures made to Fred Upton of Michigan and Billy Long over at Missouri. Now, one of the things that they had asked for were guarantees so that a state, if we go to states handling this, could never take away care for someone with a preexisting condition.

But in order to get that, apparently, they might be adding as much as $8 billion to the cost of this to cover the premiums that would be for those risky folks.

What do you think of that, and would that be a problem in the Senate if it gets that far?

CASSIDY: Well, they're trying to fulfill President Trump's pledge to care for those with preexisting conditions.

I actually think a better way to do is what we have in the Cassidy-Collins bill. In the Cassidy-Collins bill, you fulfill Trump's pledge to insure all. That way, if you have a preexisting condition and you're in a very big risk pool, it's OK.

Think about ExxonMobil. They have probably 50,000 employees. If one person gets a liver transplant, it doesn't affect everybody else's rates because there's so many insured. It's just a blip in terms of the overall cost. If we can make these...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: But it's still a lot. Right? It's still a lot.

So a lot of people are looking to this Republican effort, you know, it's still going to be a pretty big government program. Now, that might be all well and good and that -- the president, I understand, sir, has been telling people it's not going to be nearly as bad as ObamaCare, and it will be smaller, leaner and more effective than the president's Affordable Care Act.

Do you think that will be the case?

CASSIDY: I don't know the final version. I can't comment on that.

And is $8 billion enough or is it too much? That's hard to say without a CBO score. On the other hand...

CAVUTO: But you won't get a CBO score. Right? They're going to vote on this without that.

CASSIDY: Well, yes, the House, I think, will vote without it. And, obviously, I'm sure some people are objecting because of that.

But I will say that society is going to pay for health care. And so it's better -- I'm a doctor. As long as that E.R. doc, as long as the emergency room door was open, we treated whoever came in. And somebody paid.

So, I think it's better to kind of figure out on the front end how you're going to pay, do it in a leaner, better way, but -- and manage the disease, so actually you keep costs down.

CAVUTO: Yes.

CASSIDY: And I think the folks who are saying we have to cover folks, as the president is, recognize that somebody pays.

CAVUTO: Senator, we're getting word now that it's looking, looking like this will -- this budget measure will pass the House. It goes on to needing 60 votes in the Senate, hence a lot of that back and forth to get the eight Democratic votes you needed to get at least that.

What do you think of that criticism that the president has had to endure, and OMB Director Mulvaney got a lot of it yesterday, that Republicans caved on this?

CASSIDY: I disagree.

Mike Pence did, I think, a 15-minute hit on Rush Limbaugh yesterday making kind of a spirited defense of what they did. We got the greatest increase in money to secure the border in like a decade, something like that.

We increased military spending and decoupled it. Before, it had to be the same amount for domestic programs as military. That's now been decoupled and the president's priority for the military were done.

We stayed within the Budget Control Act. There are some other really good things in the bill. Of course Democrats got something, but we stayed within the Budget Control Act.

CAVUTO: All right. Yes, they used to praise anything that was bipartisan. And now, of course, they seize on it, oh, my God, it's bipartisan.

Senator, thank you very much. Good seeing you.

CASSIDY: Thank you, Neil.

CAVUTO: All right.

END

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