Sen. Ted Cruz on health care reform: 'I believe we can get it done'

The Republican senator is interviewed on "This Week."
9:03 | 07/09/17

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Transcript for Sen. Ted Cruz on health care reform: 'I believe we can get it done'
We do have senator Ted Cruz standing by. Want to go to him right now. You heard secretary mnuchin right there. He seemed to endorse your plan. The way I understand it you're saying you're advocating you want to give instance companies the ability to offer variety of plans in every state as long as they include one that includes the basic benefits package. Some analysts are saying that's going to be a classic death spiral. Well, good morning, George. Good to be with you. You know, when it comes to repealing Obamacare what I think is critical is that Republicans, we've got to honor the promise we made to the Voigt that millions of Americans are hurting under Obamacare. I believe we can get this done. I believe Republicans can come together to honor that promise and I think the way to do it is to focus on lowering premiums. The biggest reason so many are angry with Obamacare is that it's made premiums sky rocket. Now, how do we lower them? Through two things, number one, and this is actually already included in the bill we allow people to pay premiums from health savings accounts so pay from pretax dollars, that's a 20% to 30% decrease for many taxpayers in premiums immediately. That's a proposal I introduced and has been incorporated in the senate bill. S that a big deal. Number two you referenced is the consumer freedom option. I think really the consumer freedom option is the key to bringing Republicans together and getting this repeal passed and what that says is you, the consumer, should be able to choose what health care you want to buy. If you want to buy a plan with all the bes and whistles, with all of the mandates under title 1, you can buy that plan, those plans will be on the market. Those plans will have significant federal taxpayer money behind them but on the other hand if you can't afford a full Cadillac plan, you should be able to buy another plan that meets your needs. So the consumer freedom option gives you the consumer choice whether to go with the full Cadillac or a skinnier plan that's a lot more affordable and for a lot of consumers that may be much better than having no coverage whatsoever than they have now. As you know this could be an uphill fight with your colleagues including senator chuck grassley of Iowa. What it will mean for coverage of pre-existing conditions. Here's what he said to Iowa public radio about your proposal. There's a real feeling that that's subterfuge to get around pre-existing conditions and if it is, in fact, subterfuge and it has the effect of annihilating the pre-existing conditions requirement that we have in the existing bill then obviously I would object to that. What do you say to senator grassley. Well, look, I think we are making steady progress and I think the conversations have been collaborative and in good faith. You know, I don't think we should be deceived by chuck Schumer and his attacks and misstatements. That's chuck grassley. I understand that but what's being repeat there had is what Schumer said this week which is that he called it a hoax and listen, chuck Schumer and Barack Obama know a lot about health care hoaxes. They sold Obamacare saying if you like your plan you can keep your plan. That wasn't true. If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. That wasn't true. That they promised the average family their premiums would drop $2500 a year under Obamacare. That wasn't true, in fact, their premiums have sky rocketed. When it comes to pre-existing conditions, the consumer freedom amendment was designed to be a compromise, to bring together both conservatives and moderates to unify the party. How does it do that? Because it maintains pre-existing conditions protections. It is predicated on plans being offered that meet every one of the mandates including pre-existing conditions. So it doesn't take away anything that people have right now. Let me stop you there. All it does it adds new options. Let me stop you. It requires only one plan have that basic benefit package and you know what the concern can of many health care analysts. They say that plan that, you know, the healthy and wealthy people will take the low cost plans and all flood in to the low cost plan, leave a high risk pool for those who actually have serious health problems, premiums, deductibles with skyrocket in that pool and make it unaffordable. Let's talk about how that would operate. That's an understandable policy concern and I thinkt's right that you would see some market segmentation, some younger and healthier consumers choose to go to freedom plans that have much lower premiums and the argument you're laying out, well, gosh, with that drive up premiums on the title 1 plan. I don't believe it would for two reasons, number one, for the people getting the freedom plans you'd sigh a massive decrease in premiums. A lot of people getting benefit. But for the people still on the title 1 exchanges, we've got two major sources of taxpayer revenue, the first are the tax credits, the second are over $100 billion of stabilization funds. And, George, the question really here is how are we going to provide for, how are we going to provide assistance to people with serious diseases, serious pre-existing conditions. There is widespread agreement in congress, there's going to be significant assistance. Here's what Obamacare does. It takes tens of millions of young healthy people and it jacks up their premiums, it doubles or triples their premiums and takes all that extra money not for them but uses it to cross subsidize people who are sick. I don't think that's fair. I don't think that makes sense. I'd much rather uss direct taxpayer funds, let's use Warren Buffett's tax and not some 30ear-old struggling and just beginning her career. Don't double her premiums to cross subsidize other people. That's what Obamacare does. It's wildly unfair. I think one of the issues is that people say you don't have enough money to subsidize middle class people. Only to low income. I do have to move on. George, let me poi out that that's not accurate. You have two different sources of federal taxpayer funds on the exchanges, number one, the tax credits that are key directly to premium prices but number two, the senate bill has over 100 billion dollars in funds for the stabilization fund that are designed to stabilize those premiums. The objective has to be and I think the way we get this done is focus on lowering premiums if we're lowering premium, it's a win/win for everybody. I think the question is would that be enough? What happens, I know you hope your amendment. Is going to work. What happens if it doesn't? Is teams like we have two different paths being talked about right now. Senator Mcconnell in Kentucky last week saying, listen, if this fails you've got to go work with Democrats to shore up the insurance markets. You have president trump and Steve mnuchin just saying, no, we should move to the repeal then replace option. What's your answer? I agree with the president and indeed that's something Mike Lee and I both urged back in January. We pointed out that congress has voted 40, 50, 60 times to repeal Obamacare and Mike Lee and I both said, all right, let's start with the language in 2015 that just about every Republican voted for in both houses. Let's pass that, have it go into effect a year or two years from now and then spend that time debating the replacement. At the time that proposal was rejected by leadership and the administration but if we can't get this done right now, I agree with the president then let's honor the promise on repeal and spend more time to get it done but let me be clear, George, I believe we can get it done. I think there is an agreement, my objective for the last six months helping lead the working group on health care has been to reach consensus to bring together and unify the Republican conference and the way we do it is focusing like a laser. How do we lower premiums? The more we're lowering prooeps, the better and if a year from now two years from now, three years from now premiums continue to skyrocket. We will have failed but if they go down, if health insurance is more affordable that's a big win for everyone. Do you agree with president trump that his meeting with president Putin was a big success. Look, I wasn't in the meeting with president Putin. I will say this I think he had a strong trip to Europe and I think the most notable part of the trip wasn't even the meeting with Putin, I think I'm glad they're talking. I hope productive things happen but the most notable part was president trump's speech in Poland. Which was a powerful speech and it really highlighted the Polish people's resistance to the Nazis, resistance to the soviet union. He recounted pope John Paul, one of the great world leaders of history who stood alongside Ronald Reagan and Margaret thatcher with a million poles in the public square. I've been to that square in Poland where they were chanting "We want god" in this xhounist atheist country under the iron curtain oppressed by the soviet union, I got to tell you I'm certain Putin and the Russians did not like president trump powerfully telling the power of freedom and desire of people to live free to overcome the oppression and tyranny of the soviet union and I would note of modern day Russia as well. Senator Cruz, thanks for your time this morning.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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