-- (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've been talking about plan with heart.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Can GOP leaders beat the clock and get the vote? What would it mean for you?
Democrats dead set against the plan. Not all Republicans on board.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Now with just two votes to spare.
TRUMP: It's a very, very narrow path.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Is that path getting more narrow by the minute? Can President Trump find a way to satisfy conservatives and moderates with very different concerns?
We ask a senator from each camp: Rand Paul from Kentucky, Susan Collins from Maine.
And the Comey tapes.
STEPHANOPOULOS: After weeks of bluffing, Trump finally admits he did not tape his private conversations with James Comey.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why the game? What was he doing?
Plus, another special election defeat for the Democrats.
JON OSSOFF, DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: This is not the outcome any of us were hoping for, but this is the beginning of something much bigger than us.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Four losses in four tries. What does it mean for the midterms? Is it time for new leaders and a new direction? We're going to take that on with the Senate's top Democrat and our powerhouse Roundtable.
Everything you need to know from Washington. We will break down the politics, smoke out the spin with the facts that matter this week.
ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it's THIS WEEK. Here now, chief anchor, George Stephanopoulos.
It also does away with the Obamacare requirement that people buy health insurance, allows states to opt of the essential health benefits covered by Obamacar, like maternity care and treatment for addiction and mental health. That, combined with a provision that allows insurance companies to charge older Americans more for their coverage creates a pretty clear divide. Younger, healthier Americans likely to pay less for coverage; older, sicker Americans will pay more.
Already, at least five GOP senators say they can't support the legislation. The bill fails if more than two vote no, which means a lot of horse trading ahead.
Former President Obama weighed in from retired. Simply put, he said, if there's chance you might get sick, get old, or start family, this bill will do you harm. And small tweaks over the course of the next couple weeks, under the guise of making these bills easier to stomach, cannot change the fundamental meaness at the core of this legislation.
On Fox this morning, President Trump conceded that his task is tough.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: That was my term, mean, that was my term, because I want to see -- I want to see – and I speak from the heart, that's what I want to see. I want to see a bill with heart. Health care is a very complicated subject from the standpoint that you move it this way, and this group doesn't like it, you move it a little bit over here. You have a very narrow path.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: And with that, let's bring in the counselor to the president, Kellyanne Conway. Kellyanne, thanks for joining us this morning.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, we heard the president right there concede that he had called the House bill mean. He also sent out a tweet saying that he wants to make the Senate bill really special. So what makes the Senate bill less mean than the House bill? And what more does the president need to do to make it more special?
CONWAY: So, the Senate bill would do several things that Obamacare failed to do. Last year, we had 6.5 million Americans play close to $3 billion in taxes to the IRS, George, just to opt out of Obamacare. That's in addition to the 20 million overall who opted out, but 6.5 million were forced to pay a tax penalty. Those people, instead of paying taxes to the IRS, could use that money to purchase health care.
In addition, premiums were supposed to got down under Obamacare. They have more than doubled. Choices were supposed to expand. They have been reduced. We have 83 insurers who left the exchanges last year with two dozen more promising to leave the exchanges next year. Choices have been reduced in five states and in about 1,200 of our nation's counties.
There's – we're left with one provider. That is not a choice. So, we're trying to expand choices, lower those premiums, get rid of the taxes, and also get rid of the taxes on medical devices, prescription drugs, over the counter medication, that will affect many Americans immediately.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, you laid out the problems with Obamacare. A lot of Senators have questions about the Senate bill, particularly those cuts in Medicaid. More than $800 billion.
I want to show the president's first speech when he announced for president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, THEN-CANDIDATE: Save Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security without cuts, have to do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: The president right there said no cuts in Medicaid, had several tweets on that same subject. This bill has more Medicaid cuts than the House bill. Why is the president going back on his promise?
CONWAY: These are not cuts to Medicaid, George. This slows the rate for the future and it allows governors more flexibility with Medicaid dollars because they're closest to the people in need. Medicaid's imperative, its founding was meant to help the poor, the sick, the needy, the disabled children, some elderly women, particularly pregnant women. We are trying to get Medicaid back to its original moorings.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Kellyanne, I don't see how you can say the more than $800 billion in savings is not cuts. And you don't have to take my word for it, it's the Republican senators you're facing right now who have that problem, led by Senator Dean Heller in Nevada. He said he's voting no. Also Senator Susan Collins. Here's what they said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DEAN HELLER (R), NEVADA: First, it doesn't protect Nevadans on Medicaid. Second, the cuts to Medicaid threatens critical services in Nevada, services that a lot of Nevadans depend on.
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: It cannot support a bill that's going to make such deep cuts in Medicaid that it's going to shift billions of dollars of costs to our state governments.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: So these senators are the ones saying these are Medicaid cuts. Is the president prepared to put more money back into Medicaid?
CONWAY: The president is prepared to have a conversation, a discussion, a negotiation with those senators and others. I would point out for the few who say that they're currently a no, you're talking about 45 or more who are currently yeses. So that tells you something.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You don't have 45 yeses, Kellyanne. There are several -- several of those senators are not (AUDIO GAP) have not come out and said they're going to support the bill.
CONWAY: We'', we heard from -- we also heard the House bill was never going to pass. We heard this guy can never get elected. We're very confident that the Senate bill will get through and that we're going to have health care reform that literally takes away these draconian Obamacare taxes, taxes on medical devices, prescription drugs.
But let me get back to Medicaid for a second, because I can't just let it sit there unanswered, George. If you're currently in Medicaid, if you became a Medicaid recipient through the Obamacare expansion, you're grandfathered in. We're talking about in the future.
You know, Obamacare took Medicaid, which was designed to help the poor, the needy, the elderly, the sick, the disabled also children, and pregnant women, it took it and it went way above the poverty line and opened it up to many able-bodied Americans who should probably find other -- should at least see if there are other options for them.
If they're able-bodied and they want to work, then they'll have employer-sponsored benefits like you and I do, so...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Kellyanne, hold on a second. There's no way you can say that a 15-year-old on Medicaid today is not going to be affected by the cuts in the future.
CONWAY: I didn't say that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, you said everybody who is on Medicaid now is grandfathered in and is not going to face any cuts. And that simply is not factual if you have more than $800 billion in cuts. It also raises the...
CONWAY: You keep calling them as cuts. But we don't see them as cuts. It's slowing the rate of growth in the future and getting Medicaid back to where it was. Obamacare expanded the pool of Medicaid recipients beyond its original intentions.
And, George, you have to look at the whole health care bill, 142 pages in totem (ph) here to have a full conversation. When you get rid of these penalties, these taxes, when yo open up the market, when you stop the insurers from leaving and just hemorrhaging out of the exchanges, you had 83 leave the markets last year, two dozen more, that will be over 100 by next year.
They think Obamacare is a bad deal, as do the 20 million who opted out, 6.5 million who went and paid a penalty rather than get this great thing called Obamacare.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Again, it's the Republican senators calling this cuts. It's the experts calling this cuts. There's no way you can say...
CONWAY: And you know why that is?
STEPHANOPOULOS: … $800 billion in savings are not cuts. But I don't want to dwell on that, because there are other important issues we have to focus on here as well.
The president has made a big effort on opioid addiction. He says he really wants to do something about it, including in his address to Congress earlier in the year. Let's take a look at that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We will stop the drugs from pouring into our country and poisoning our youth. And we will expand treatment for those who have become so badly addicted.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: All of the experts say because of what is being done to Medicaid in this bill that you cannot expand treatment for opioid addiction. Here was the leader of the National Center on Addiction. He says that anyone supporting the Senate bill can't claim to be addressing the opioid epidemic, the medicaid cuts will have a devastating impact right there.
Also the heads of insurance companies have sent a letter on this saying that four out of 10 people being treated for opioid addiction in the five most affected states, like Ohio, like West Virginia, are getting Medicaid funding. This is going to take that away.
CONWAY: George, the president just this year signed into law a bill that provided $213 million in opioid funding. Next year's budget includes another $811 million. In addition to that, in the Senate bill, there's a very important feature that we've heard from Democratic and Republican governors is important to them.
In addition to that, in the Senate bill, there's a very important feature that we've heard from Democratic and Republican Senate -- governors is important to them.
It lifts this restriction that really has impeded in facility treatment, recovery treatment and addiction treatment because there's been this per bed -- you know, they count the number of beds and decide whether you can get Medicaid funding for opioid treatment.
The Senate bill would do away with that. It's a huge step forward.
I also am very involved with Secretary Price and HHS. These travel -- we're traveling around this country to talk to first responders, to talk to the families, to talk to those in treatment and recovery. We're talking to faith-based employers. We're talking to the health providers.
The president and the vice president have leaned all the way into opioid addiction. He set up a commission that's headed by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
That commission is bipartisan. It includes former Congressman Patrick Kennedy, who's a very vocal...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Right, but Kelly...
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- Kellyanne...
CONWAY: -- it includes Democratic governor of North Carolina, Roy Cooper. And we are doing things to actually help people...
STEPHANOPOULOS: That commission -- let's talk about that commission...
CONWAY: -- and Congress is...
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- though, because that week -- this week, the commission had a hearing and the experts who testified at that commission said that these cuts in Medicaid are going to have a devastating impact.
Again, even the Republican senators most affected, Rob Portman in Ohio, Shelley Capito in West Virginia, say you're going to need to add far more money, $45 billion, to begin to address the opioid addiction problem.
This bill doesn't do that.
CONWAY: And George, I would point out that President Obama, through ObamaCare and elsewise, poured money into crises like this and where are we?
You can fill up every seat in Yankee Stadium and that accounts for the number of people who died of drug addiction in this country just last year. Thirty-three thousand of whom opioid-related. It's a gateway to heroin use, fentanyl, carfentanil. It's all of these problems.
And so pouring money into the problem is not only answer. We have to get serious about in-facility treatment and recovery. It...
STEPHANOPOULOS: That takes money, Kellyanne.
CONWAY: It takes money and it also takes a four letter word called will. It takes the focus that it includes money, but it also includes understanding the difference between just interdiction and prevention, but, also recovery and treatment.
We have a lot more success stories now even though no state has been spared and no demographic group has been untouched.
George, money alone hasn't solved this problem. ObamaCare spent billions of dollars and where are we?
We've got people -- we've got ObamaCare victims, they came to the White House last Thursday. More are coming tomorrow to tell their stories. These are real people who have been left out of the system and who have been harmed by ObamaCare, because they can't buy the -- they can't buy on the exchanges. The insurers are fleeing. And some people got an insurance card and they had the worst possible outcomes. They couldn't use the card.
And (INAUDIBLE) nothing because their premiums had skyrocketed, in some states, by over 100 percent.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The president also has problems on the other side with conservatives in the Senate, you have a different set of problems, led by Rand Paul, who's going to come up on this program after you.
One White House aide told Politico that getting Rand Paul's vote is the president's personal mission.
So has the president spoken to Senator Paul since the Senate bill was revealed?
And what can he offer to those conservatives to get their vote without driving off the moderates?
CONWAY: As the president did with the House bill, he is working the phones, he's having personal meetings, and he's engaging with leaders. He hosted Get to Yes. We're very open.
By the way, George, let me say it for the record, the president and the White House are also open to getting Democratic votes. The idea that every single Democrat is part of this resistance and obstruction and not doing a darn thing to help their constituents who have been left out of the Obamacare coverage, who have not benefited, who have paid $3 billion to the IRS in taxes, who come to this White House and tell their stories, which are incredibly sad and totally avoidable -- why can't we get a single Democrat to come to the table, to come to the White House, to speak to the president or anyone else about trying to improve a system that has not worked for everyone?
You know, the Democrats themselves, many of them have admitted Obamacare is a failure. 113 Democrats on the House have signed on to Bernie Sanders' bill. SO they're admitting that Obamacare has failed. They have cost about $32 trillion so that's another failure. But we've got a lot of questions and we have no Democrats coming to the table. All four of those losers in the special elections, the Democrats, they all ran pretty much to keep Obamacare where it is and they lost.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And I will ask Senator Schumer about that when he comes up next. Of course, they say they're prepared to work on fixes to Obamacare if you take repeal off the table.
CONWAY: Where are they?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, you haven't taken repeal off the table. That's their point. They think repeal is going to be worse. But I will ask Senator Schumer about that.
But I want to move on right now. We also saw the president, for the first time this week, finally concede that he did not actually tape James Comey. Here's what the president's tweet said. He said, "With all the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking, illegal leaking of information, I have no idea whether there are tapes or recordings of my conversations with James Comey, but I did not make and do not have any such recordings."
So that's clear right now. The president said he did not tape James Comey, but I am confused by the top part of that tape. Does the president have any evidence at all that his personal conversations were somehow taped? And has he asked the intelligence agencies for that evidence?
CONWAY: In that tweet, the president is making clear, as he often does on social media, George, that he's leaving over the possibility that it could have happened. Why do we know this? Because you know the conversations he had with the heads of Mexico and Australia were leaked.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But Kellyanne, that's what I – he's leaving open the possibility. He's president of the United States. He can ask the intelligence agencies. He can ask the National Security Agency. He can ask the CIA. Has he asked them? Does he have any evidence?
CONWAY: So, the president has made very clear as Director Pompeo did on a different network this weekend that these leaks coming from the intelligence and security communities are impeding...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Kellyanne, that's not what I asked. I asked if he has any evidence that he was taped.
CONWAY: OK, but it's the same answer. He is saying – well, first of all, we have evidence that there are leaks, George. I mean, they go right to the media. We have evidence that Jim Comey himself wanted to leak a confidential conversation or three with the president, gave to it a private citizen to leak to The New York Times.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That's different from whether or not there are any tapes of his conversations. Has the president asked the intelligence agencies if they have any tapes of his conversations? Does he know if they have that? Does he have any evidence to back up that suggestion that he put out in the tweet?
CONWAY: I'm not going to comment on his conversations with his intelligence community. Do you have any evidence of Russia collusion, because Adam Schiff doesn't. Jeh Johnson doesn't. Jim Comey doesn't. I mean, what are we talking about here with this never ending Russian discussion. Now because they couldn't find collusion, now because it's the Obama administration that was responsible for doing absolutely nothing from August to January with the knowledge that Russia was hacking into our election. They did absolutely nothing. They're responsible for this. Nobody has any evidence of collusion. Nobody has any evidence that the president was under investigation for this. And now we're going to move on to hacking.
I have a hacking question for the Obama administration, why did you, quote, choke in the name of one of their senior administration officials? Why did you do nothing? Why didn't you inform candidate Trump? I know you thought Hillary would win, but how could you not reveal important information about Russia hacking? When the president found out about it in January, as president, he said it was a disgrace. He believes Russia was behind it but that he thinks other people hacked too.
I think the previous administration has a lot of questions to answer given this Russian obsession by everyone.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Perhaps they do, but the White House did, or the intelligence agencies in October actually did reveal that Russia had been involved in the election, and President Trump consistently has dismissed that. It finally appears that for the first time this week he conceded that the Russians did interfere in the election.
The big question now is for President Trump. What he is going to do about it?
CONWAY: Well, the other question that Jeh Johnson, the former DHS secretary for President Obama answered this week, George, is that that the Russian hacking changed no votes. Everybody has said that. Everybody credible said it's changed no votes. So, let's make that clear.
What the president has already done, when he was confronted with this information in January, he said it's a, quote, disgrace. He thinks Russia was involved, but that others are hacking, too. In addition, he signed very early on a cybersecurity executive order and has an entire task force, they met just this week, and it's headed up by his homeland security advisor, taking into account what foreign governments may be doing. That goes for Russia or anybody else who wants to interfere in our democracy.
Number two, he has this commission on electoral integrity headed up by Vice President Mike Pence. They've been meeting. They're going to issue a report. The commission now has 10 members. And that for everything from voter fraud here domestically to possible hacking by foreign governments. He takes very seriously integrity at the ballot box in all of its forms.
But I have no idea why the Obama administration, except that they thought Hillary would win and it didn't matter, couldn't take action. Why they failed to deliver on such an essential duty, they had the prerogative, the duty, and they failed to act on Russian hacking.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Final question, last day of the Supreme Court, tomorrow, a lot of speculation about Justice Kennedy. Has he said anything to the White House about his retirement plans?
CONWAY: I will never reveal a conversation between a sitting justice and the president or the White House, but we're paying very close attention to these last bit of decisions. And I can tell you one thing, just as the president did with Justice Neil Gorsuch, whenever there are vacancies, whenever that happens, he will look for somebody who has fidelity to the Constitution, who doesn't make up the law as they go along, and somebody who has the judicial temperament and a record that's beyond reproach, as did Justice Gorsuch.
We just hope the next time we can get more than a handful of Democratic senators to vote for our nominee to the Supreme Court and to the federal courts. We'd like a lot more cooperation from our Democratic friends. We know obstruction and resistance is their motto. It's not working. And it's not working for the American people, Supreme Court nominations and otherwise.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Kellyanne Conway, thanks very much.
CONWAY: Thank you, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Now for the Democratic response, we're joined by the Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer. Senator Schumer, thank you for joining us this morning.
You just heard Kellyanne Conway right there. She said the Democrats ought to come to the table, help pass this thing.
SCHUMER: Well, on January 4th they passed this reconciliation bill, which said we don't want Democrats. We have sent them 10 letters saying sit down with us. We can improve Obamacare. If you stop doing this repeal, which is Trumpcare, highly unpopular with the American people, we'll sit down with you and make it better.
Even last week, I asked Mitch McConnell, let Democrats and Republicans together, all 100 of us, meet in the Old Senate Chamber and discuss this. No. They want to try it themselves first. If they fail, hopefully they'll come sit down. They'll stop sabotaging Obamacare, and sit down with us, and we'll make Obamacare better.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Are they going to pass this bill?
SCHUMER: I think it's 50-50. First Democrats, we are doing everything we can to fight this bill, because it's so devastating for the middle class. I think they have at best a 50-50 chance of passing this bill, to get three senators to vote no. You can say yes, you can say no, it's probably 50-50.
But the bill is just devastating. And that's what's making it so hard for them to pass it. Here's what it does. It kills the middle class and gives money to the wealthy. And let's not forget one thing, George. The hard, hard right, these thousand very wealthy people have such dominance in the Republican Party, they have had two goals for decades.
One, reduce taxes on the rich. People who make over $1 million get an average of a $57,000 tax cut. Two, destroy the social safety for the middle class of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. This is the first step where they're doing that in the Senate bill.
So that's why there is such pressure on these Republicans, this narrow group of wealthy people with power. But the American people are crying out and saying no.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But if this goes down, you call the White House the next day?
SCHUMER: I call the White House the next day, I would be happy to, and say two things. First, stop sabotaging Obamacare. This cost-sharing proposal which Democrats have been for and Republicans have rejected, the insurance industry itself says that's the number one way to stabilize Obamacare. In fact, CBO said it was being stabilizing until they started sabotaging it with this cost-sharing.
But two, sit down and work with us. We have ideas. You have ideas. Stop, you can't repeal Obamacare. That was proven if they lost. We'll work with you to make it better.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's talk about Russia. You heard Kellyanne Conway right there playing off that Washington Post story which showed the president was told, President Obama back in August, about Vladimir Putin's order to meddle in the elections.
Did the Obama administration, as one White House aide say, choke on this? Should they have done more earlier?
SCHUMER: Well, look, there were classified briefings. I was not part of them then, because I wasn't in the "group of eight," so it's hard for me to comment without knowing the sinew (ph) of that. But I'll tell you, there were public reports that the Republican leadership told Obama not the comment because it would jaundice the elections.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So what happens now? You even had some Democrats say that the president should have -- President Obama should have acted sooner. The sanctions that he put on are relatively small. Does the American people need to do more right now?
SCHUMER: Well, I saw Kellyanne Conway blaming the Obama administration. But they're no longer in charge. Here's something that could be done. We passed, in a bipartisan way, didn't get that much attention, but Mitch McConnell and I and the leaders of these -- of Democratic and Republican leaders of the Senate Banking and Foreign Relations Committee, passed a bill that does three things on sanctions.
One, it codifies the existing sanctions. Two, it says Trump can't reduce them on his own. He needs congressional approval. And three, there are new sanctions that are toughened up based on what John McCain and Lindsey Graham wanted to do.
Now Donald Trump seems to be opposing that. The American people are scratching their heads. Knowing his relationship with Putin, they're saying, why the heck is he opposing strengthening the sanctions?
STEPHANOPOULOS: They're saying it's just on separation of power concerns.
SCHUMER: Oh, come on. Give me a break. These sanctions are tough. They're strong. And they have supported Iranian sanctions, you know, doing similar things with Iranian sanctions, I believe.
So the bottom line is, if Donald Trump wants to do something about Russia and Russia meddling, instead of just saying, Obama didn't do enough, support our sanctions bill. I'll tell you this, I hope Paul Ryan will step up to the plate. With Russia meddling in our elections, that's serious, serious stuff. If he passes it, and Trump vetoes it, it will be overridden by Democrats and Republicans.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Democrats lost another special election this week in Georgia, Georgia 6. That's four in a row. Led to a lot of second-guessing by prominent Democrats, including Tim Ryan, Congressman Tim Ryan, who said, "our brand" -- I want to show it right there, "our brand is worse than Trump."
SCHUMER: OK, here's the number one lesson from Georgia 6. Democrats need a strong, bold, sharp-edged, and common-sense economic agenda. Policy, platform, message that appeal to the middle class. That resonate with the middle class. And show that -- and unite Democrats. That's what I've been working on for months.
And I've been talking to Democrats, House and Senate, all across the country. I've been talking to Trump voters. I was at a Yankee last Saturday night, and I sat next to someone, you know, just because that's how the seats were. We sit in the grandstand, wearing an "I'm proud to be a deplorable voter," a truck driver.
This economic message platform is going to resonate. It’s what we were missing and it’s not going to be baby steps; it’s going to bold. We’re coming out with it this summer, within a month. You will see it and Democrats will try to pass it legislatively for a year and campaign on it in 2018. It’s what we were missing in 2016 and in the past. We’re going to -- we know that. But you lose an election, you don’t blame other people, you blame yourself.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman Ryan and others --
SCHUMER: We need to do it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- say it may be necessary but not sufficient. Also they say Nancy Pelosi has to go.
SCHUMER: Yes, look, you always blame -- they always blame the leader. I think if we come up with this strong, bold economic package, it will -- it will change things around. That’s what we were missing. People don’t like Trump; he’s at 40 percent. But they say what the heck do the Democrats stand for? Ryan has a point here -- we better stand for something and it can’t be baby steps.
People, Democrats, are going to be pleased. I’m talking to Bernie Sanders, I’m talking to Joe Manchin. This is going to be really something that Democrats can be proud of and I’m excited about it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman (sic) Schumer, thanks for your time this morning.
SCHUMER: Thank you.
STEPHANOPOULOS: When we come back, two of the senators who could make or break the GOP health care bill, Senators Rand Paul of Kentucky and Susan Collins of Maine. Of course, that's Senator Schumer. We'll be right back.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senators Rand Paul, Susan Collins standing by. What needs to change in the GOP health care bill to get their votes? We're back in just two minutes.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Back now with two of the Senators who could determine the fate of Obamacare repeal, Senators Rand Paul of Kentucky, Susan Collins of Maine.
I want to start with Senator Paul. Senator Paul, thank you for joining us this morning.
You and three other conservatives said that the repeal doesn't go far enough. You say the subsidies are too generous. But you just heard President Trump this morning, he kind of conceded that he called the House bill too mean, says he wants a Senate bill with more heart. That seems to be going in the opposite direction of what you're calling for.
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Well, you know, the fundamental flaw of Obamacare was that it added regulations to insurance, mandates, which made insurance more expensive, but then it also told individuals, you know what, if you don't want to buy now, you can wait and buy it after you're sick. That still remains, 10 of 12 regulations that add cost to insurance remain under the Republican bill. And we still say you can still by insurance after you're sick.
If you add those two together, you still get the death spiral. The Republican plan acknowledges that we're going to still have this death spiral, which is sicker and sicker people in the individual market and the healthy people don't buy insurance, they acknowledge this by putting over $100 billion of insurance bailout money to try to say, oh we're going to tamp down prices. We're going to fix the problem, we're going to acknowledge the will continue forever and we're just going to pile taxpayer money into it. That is just not a conservative notion to add a new federal program to bailout insurance programs.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That sounds like a fundamental structural flaw in the program that you're talking about. So, is there no way you can get to a yes vote?
PAUL: Well, what we can do is if they cannot get 50 votes, if they get to impasse, I've been telling leadership for months now I'll vote for a repeal. And it doesn't have to be 100 percent repeal. So, for example, I'm for 100 percent repeal, that's what I want. But if you offer me 90 percent repeal, I'd probably would vote it. I might vote for 80 percent repeal.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What percent is it now?
PAUL: But realize that this – just one second – realize that the Obamacare subsidies in this bill are actually greater under the Republican bill than they are under the current Obamacare law. That is not anywhere close to repeal.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, you're a no right now. You're a no.
PAUL: At this point. But I could vote, if we get to impasse, if we go to a bill that is more repeal and less big government programs, yes, I'll consider partial repeal.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, that means fewer subsidies? Lower subsidies?
PAUL: It means more freedom. It means they have to legalize the sale of inexpensive insurance. Obamacare made it ill legal to buy inexpensive insurance. If I'm a 27-year-old guy, and I don't want pregnancy coverage, I cannot buy an inexpensive policy. They've priced me out of the marketplace. And therefore I don't buy it at all. And that leads to the whole death spiral of Obamacare.
All of that remains under this. And I'm not voting for something that looks just like Obamacare and still doesn't fix the fundamental flaw of Obamacare.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Your colleague Mike Lee also says he's a no right now. He says this, and it's very hard to see how he could get to yes. The only thing he can see right now is giving every state the ability to opt out of Obamacare. Would that fix it for you?
PAUL: It helps, because what that means is you have the freedom the buy inexpensive insurance. You have to realize Obamacare mandates, regulations, add cost to insurance, price young, healthy people out of the market, and then you get the death spiral that is Obamacare.
So, if you get rid of the regulations, you may allow inexpensive insurances to be sold once again and you may allow freedom of choice.
Shouldn't the individual in a free country be able to decide what they want for insurance? The government shouldn't tell you what you have to buy for insurance.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You have got four conservatives like you say you're a no vote now, unless you get some fixes. As you know, there are also several moderates who are opposed to the Medicaid cuts, including Susan Collins who is coming up next. She also doesn't like the denial of funding to Planned Parenthood, believes, along with many other moderates, that the subsidies aren't generous enough.
So, if it moves in their direction, does it lose you?
PAUL: Well, the way you can do this is instead of moving in one direction or the other, why don't we take 25 ideas and keep narrowing it until we get 100 percent consensus. On all 25 ideas or all 1,000 ideas about how to fix health care, there's not consensus probably in any political party. But what if we keep whittling it back to things we have consensus for?
Everyone in our caucus is for expanding health savings accounts. Why don't we at least do that? Everybody in our caucus thinks the Obamacare taxes were a punishment on business and opportunity and jobs in our country. Why don't we do that?
Everybody in our caucus thinks we ought to repeal at least some regulations. Why don't we repeal some regulations? If there's dissent on Medicaid, why don't we come back in six months and say, you know what, let's work with Democrats and let's do the replace, the new government programs that you all want, let's work with Democrats on that.
Let's go ahead and repeal the things Democrats will never do. Democrats will never repeal a tax and they'll never repeal a regulation. And those are two things that are messing up the marketplace.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Doesn't sound to me like you're going to get to yes this week.
PAUL: I will get to yes if they change their approach. And will they change their approach if they don't get 50? I think they ought to. Why don't we whittle it down to what the whole caucus agrees on. I think there's a bill that all 52 Republicans agree on if they keep narrowing the focus.
They've promised too much. They say they're going to fix health care and premiums are going to down. There's no way the Republican bill brings down premiums. Look, I've been in medicine 20 years. I'm 54 years old. Premiums have never gone down. They're not going to go down after the Republican bill.
And it's a false, sort of over-promising to say, oh, yes, insurance premiums are going to go down. But we're keeping 10 of the 12 mandates that caused the prices to go up. It's a foolish notion to promise something you can't provide.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Paul, thanks for your time this morning.
PAUL: Thank you.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Want to move on now to Senator Susan Collins of Maine. She's joining us from Washington this morning.
You just heard Senator Paul. You heard Kellyanne Conway. You heard Senator Schumer this morning. Is there any way this week for Senator McConnell and President Trump to come up with a bill that both you and Senator Paul can support?
COLLINS: It's certainly going to be very difficult. For my part, I'm very concerned about the cost of insurance for older people with serious chronic illnesses, and the impact of the Medicaid cuts on our state governments, the most vulnerable people in our society, and health care providers such as our rural hospitals and nursing home, most of whom are very dependent on the Medicaid program.
So threading that needle is going to be extremely difficult.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You just heard Kellyanne Conway say though that those are not Medicaid cuts. What is your response to that?
COLLINS: Well, I respectfully disagree with her analysis. But this is why we need the Congressional Budget Office assessment of the impact of the Senate bill on costs and coverage, including its analysis of Medicaid. And that will be coming out tomorrow.
But based on what I've seen, given the inflation rate that would be applied in the outer years to the Medicaid program, the Senate bill is going to have more impact on the Medicaid program than even the House bill.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So that means -- if that's true, and if that is confirmed by the Congressional Budget Office, you're a no?
COLLINS: I want to wait to see the CBO analysis. But I have very serious concerns about the bill.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You also have concerns about Planned Parenthood. This bill would deny funding of Planned Parenthood for a year. I know you're planning on introducing an amendment with Senator Murkowski that would restore the funding for Planned Parenthood.
If that amendment fails, will you oppose final passage?
COLLINS: Well, first, let me say that it makes absolutely no sense to eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood. There already are longstanding restrictions on the use of federal funds for abortion. So that's not what this debate is about. And Planned Parenthood is an important provider of health care services, including family planning and cancer screenings for millions of Americans, particularly women.
And they should be allowed to choose the health provider that they want. That's one of the issues that I care deeply about. But there are many others as well.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I understand...
COLLINS: I am optimistic we'll prevail on that issue.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Even though you think you'll prevail on the amendment, but if you don't, I understand that you have other concerns with the bill as well. Is Planned Parenthood funding a bottom line for you? If this bill denies funding to Planned Parenthood, are you against it?
COLLINS: It is one of many factors and a very important one that I will consider in casting my vote. But I'm also very concerned about the Medicaid cuts, what it means to our most vulnerable citizens. And I'm very concerned about the cost of insurance premiums and deductibles, particularly for that very vulnerable group between the age of 50 and 64.
They are particularly at risk, based on my initial analysis. So I'm going to look at the whole bill before making a decision.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Are there a critical mass? We know that Senator Paul and three other conservatives want more repeal from their perspective. How many more senators do you believe share your views on Medicaid?
COLLINS: Well, there are several of us who have been meeting under the leadership of Senator Rob Portman to look at the Medicaid provisions. And there are about seven to eight people in that group. I can't speak for them. But suffice it to say that they are certainly concerned. And that is why the CBO analysis quantifying the cuts and the impact is going to be so important.
You can't take over $800 billion out of the Medicaid program and not expect that it's going to have an impact on a rural nursing home that relies on Medicaid for 70 percent of the costs of its patients. So this is an access issue as well as one having to do with cost.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Does the bill pass this week?
COLLINS: It's hard for me to see the bill passing this week. But that's up to the majority leader. We could well be in all night a couple of nights working through what will be an open amendment process. And I think that -- that at least is good. The process could have been a lot better. I would've liked to have seen the Democrats step up to the table and negotiate with us now, not wait till the bill is passed or defeated.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Collins, thanks for your time this morning.
COLLINS: Thank you, George.
Powerhouse roundtable is up next. We'll be right back.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The Roundtable is here. We have our chief political analyst, Matthew Dowd; also The Washington Bureau chief for the Associated Press, Julie Pace, congratulations, that's a new job; Lanhee Chan from the Hoover Institute at Stanford, he was policy director for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign; and Neera Tanden, president and CEO of the Center for American Progress. She was the senior policy advisor for Hillary Clinton.
And, Matt, let's begin with you. We've learned a lot this morning on heath care. Saw the perspective from the White House. Saw President Trump concede that he thought the House bill was mean. You also saw the big differences between the conservatives, Rand Paul, and moderates like Susan Collins.
Is there any way Mitch McConnell could put this together this week?
MATTHEW DOWD, ABD NEWS CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, as you say, there's huge divides. I gave up predictions after November elections in this midst of chaos, dysfunction, and disruption, where we are today in our politics.
I think this conversation is really important. This is real world. This affects 300 million-plus Americans. It doesn't matter if you're on Medicaid, it affects 300 million. It's personal. You know, I served on a board of a Catholic charity hospital. I had a sister die of opiate addiction, and two twin daughters who went through a neonatal unit for – one for nine months, one passed away in the middle of it.
It think this all boils down, we can debate all the words, this boils down in a choice, a fundamental choice. The choice is this. The choice is do you take $1 trillion and help the poor, and vulnerable, and working class in the country in their health care, subsidized by the federal government. or do you take the $1 trillion and return it to basically the wealthy of the country? That's the really the fundamental choice there.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What is the answer?
LANHEE CHAN, HOOVER INSTITUE: Well, look, I think that there are a couple of issues here. One is, the reason why Republicans want to deal with Medicaid is because they don't think it is sustainable in the long run. So, ultimately, if you want to help, the answer is not the take a program, which, by the way, is going to grow faster than the economy over the next 10 years and not do anything to it. The answer is reforming the system in a way, by the way, that Democrats supported in the 1990s.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Isn't there a problem pairing that with tax cuts? I mean, if your argument were correct – I mean, let's take your argument on its face, why match it with $1 trillion in tax cuts.
CHEN: Well, because part of the reason why is because the tax cuts are important to generating economic growth. And that's -- well, but that's a consideration, I think, if you look back over the last seven years.
TANDEN: If you wanted to generate economic growth, you wouldn't do it for just the wealthiest?
CHEN: Well, but if you look back over the last seven years, Obamacare has been a drag on the American economy. So one of the reasons that you do this is precisely to get the economy going.
But the different point is also this, what the Senate bill does that the House bill didn't do is provide a more generous measure of support, all the way down, actually, to the lower the end of the income scale. Absolutely, it does, compared to the House bill.
TANDEN: No, no, no.
TANDEN: I would say first, on the Medicaid program, this is a 50-year-old program. So, you know, it's the fact that they're doing the most radical transformations of the program, meaning, they are going to cut $800 billion of the Medicaid program, which I appreciate Republicans wanted to do for a long time.
But that will have real consequences for the most vulnerable. And I think that is one of the reasons why Donald Trump said he would never cut the Medicaid program and is going back on that promise.
But most importantly, Republicans have promised to lower premiums, Donald Trump promised to lower premiums, lower health care costs, and make sure everyone is covered. This bill, which I think is truly a monstrous bill, and I use that term with some heavy heart, a monstrous bill because it actually will raise premiums for everyone, cut millions of people off of health insurance, and to do that, all to basically give a massive tax cut to the wealthy.
And that's why I just need to say, the AARP, doctors' groups, have all come out against this, nurses, stakeholders in the health care system say that this is a bill that will not just hurt these just -- it will hurt everyone. Lifetime caps, people with employer-sponsored coverage, going to lose it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And that's why the longer it stays out there, Julie, the less chance it probably has of passing. But where is President Trump in all this right now? You saw him in that interview this morning, concede the word "mean" for the House bill. It seems like if you listen to his words, what he also said in Iowa the other night that he wants more bill with more heart, that he wants to go in the direction of the moderates, wants to find ways to increase the subsidies, increase the Medicaid funding, that's going to cost him on the conservative side.
PACE: Absolutely. And all those signals are right that we're getting from the White House. And this dates back to what Neera was talking about with the words that the president was speaking on the campaign trail when he did talk about health care, he talked about it in a pretty broad way, making sure that no one would lose coverage, making sure that everybody who wanted access to health care would have it.
And so he's in a bit of a bind right now because when he talks about it in that way, it's not what conservatives want to hear. They hear someone who sounds like they're talking about spending more money, pumping more government funding into a health care bill. When you heard Rand Paul, that certainly seems like the opposite of what he is saying.
But Republicans are also motivated by politics right now. They feel like their members in the Senate have to have a vote. They know that if this drags out even longer, then they get into recess where they're going to be going home hearing from constituents. And certainly if we get toward the end of the year into 2018, then we're bumping up against the midterms.
DOWD: I think this is so -- this debate is so demonstrative of the dysfunction in Washington, right? There's this huge ideological divide. Neither side right now is coming to the table actually to solve a fundamental problem, which is accessibility and affordability of health care.
And all the solutions that we talk about aren't going to solve either one of those problems. Obamacare didn't solve fundamentally accessibility and affordability. Premiums have gone up. Health care costs have gone up. It did affect some of it, but it didn't fundamentally settle it.
I think at some point it's time for us to step back a little bit, look around the world, because we don't have a monopoly on all the solutions. We didn't make all the inventions in the history of the world. As a matter of fact, antibiotics and X-ray machines were invented by other countries. We should look at how other countries in the world solve this problem to fundamentally affect wellness for the majority of Americans.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And one of the things on that point, let me bring this to Lanhee, driving I think some Republicans is if they don't vote yes on this, people are going to look around the world and say, the real answer is some kind of single-payer health care.
CHEN: Yes, and you're starting to see it at the state level, if you look at California, if you look at some of the states that are moving in that direction. So I think Republicans have a challenge.
One of the things this debate has laid bare, by the way, is the fact that Republicans have deep disagreements on health care. This was something that they were able to paper over for the last seven years and say, look, we're all against Obamacare.
Here's the reality, we disagree on Medicaid, the structure and the level of Medicaid funding. We disagree on how deep we should have these subsidies go. Should the subsidies go to the poorest Americans, as the Senate bill does, or should it be more moderated, as the House bill does?
So there are disagreements. And those disagreements and debates are really being fought out now.
TANDEN: So why -- can they just answer this for me? The president talked about repealing Obamacare. Why are they basically taking on the entire Medicaid program? He never campaigned on this. This is a giant bait and switch.
And just to be clear about the impact of what they're doing, a 60-year-old person in Maine will have a $9,200 increase in their premiums.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, we know the answer to that question, it's where the money is. That's Medicaid, is where the money is.
TANDEN: Right. But only to fuel a tax cut for the wealthy. Why do they have to do that? Just deal with Obamacare if you want to, but what this has become is a basically cruel attempt to go after a health care system for the most vulnerable.
And in the House and Senate bill, they brought in the Medicaid program to ultimately -- to basically get -- they basically cut millions of people. You'll see that in the CBO score tomorrow. Millions of people will lose coverage from the Medicaid cuts and the Senate bill is crueler on the Medicaid expansion. People who have Medicaid today through the expansion will lose it from the Senate bill. And you know that as well as I do, Lanhee.
CHEN: Here's one of the things though. First of all, Obamacare is largely about the Medicaid expansion, because about 80 percent of the coverage gains --
TANDEN: This goes beyond the Medicaid expansion to the Medicaid program --
CHEN: -- came from Medicaid. Well, no, see --
TANDEN: You know that.
CHEN: Here's the thing. The traditional populations in Medicaid, those most vulnerable -- the disabled, the aged, the sick, younger Americans -- those people are still going to be in the Medicaid program.
TANDEN: But the cuts over the ten years --
CHEN: Because their -- but their eligibility is not --
TANDEN: No. But their -- there will be cuts every ten years --
DOWD: No -- every step --
TANDEN: -- for them.
DOWD: Every step of the current debate leads us closer and closer to single payer. Every single step of this debate leads closer. There is an ideological reason and Republicans ought to just stand up and say we don't want government involved in healthcare at all.
STEPHANOPOULOS: They need to say -- I want to bring this to --
TANDEN: I want to just disagree on this. You know, we could have a debate about how the fix the ACA. You would never --
DOWD: Democrats haven't offered it.
TANDEN: I have, I've (INAUDIBLE). There were many Democrats.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That's unlikely to happen until this goes down. And there is some thought in Washington that maybe Mitch McConnell wants this bill to go down, wants to get it off his back and move on the to full tax cuts.
PACE: I was struck -- I was on the hill on Thursday and I was struck by how prevalent that line of thinking is among Republicans right now. You know, Mitch McConnell is very crafty. He has been doing this, this negotiation over this bill and this strategy, largely in private. And there is a school of thought that Republicans need -- in the Senate -- need to be able to have a vote on health care, largely because they've been talking about it for seven years. But that they would rather just move on.
That still puts them in a tricky position because it gets to exactly the point that we're talking about. If you can't get a Republican replace package passed, then we are in a situation where everyone says the current health care system does have major flaws. Could these two parties come together and resolve it? And there doesn't seem to be political will on either side right now.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And we have ten seconds left. Chuck Schumer said it's 50-50. I know you're not going predict. Anybody else want to make a prediction?
CHEN: It's going to pass, George.
TANDEN: I will say if it passes -- I don't want it to pass, but I do think it will help ensure that a lot of Democrats --
DOWD: Health care -- (INAUDIBLE) health care is still going to be broken by the end of this year.
TANDEN: -- a lot of Democrats will be (INAUDIBLE).
STEPHANOPOULOS: I do like that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That's all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. I'll see your tomorrow on "GMA".