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CNN "Newsroom" - Transcript: Affordable Care Act and Impact on Previously Held Plans

Interview

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BLITZER: Bringing in two members of Congress with different perspectives on Obamacare. Republican Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Democrat Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas. Ladies, thanks very much for coming in. So, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, did the president mislead Americans? Because, as you know, millions of Americans now are being told that their existing insurance plans are no longer up to par with what Obamacare requires and they have to apply for new plans.

REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D), TEXAS: It's good to be with you Wolf and absolutely not. You know, Republicans are trying to have an early Halloween by having monsters in every corner. Everything that is regarding the Affordable Care Act giving millions of Americans the opportunity for health care, our Republican friends will find a monster. What is happening is and what has been noted by insurance leaders is that, yes, there are grandfathered plans. But there are plans that are not adequate or responsive to the Affordable Care Act new benefits, ones dealing with pre-existing conditions and wellness care.

And so, these plans are being upgraded. No insurance company, based on the Affordable Care Act, is being forced to eliminate individuals from having insurance. They are upgrading those plans. But what we do know is 700,000 persons have applied for information. We know that it's working fabulously in Kentucky and California, two distinctly different states. And we know that millions of Americans will have access to health care and better health care.

BLITZER: All right.

LEE: So, the president did not misrepresent. Plans are being upgraded and Americans are getting better plans and, as well, Wolf, they're getting tax subsidies, something they never had before.

BLITZER: Congresswoman Blackburn, go ahead.

REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: Yes, absolutely. What we are seeing is there are millions of Americans, Wolf, as you have said, who are getting termination letters. The insurance they've had, the insurance that they like, the insurance that fits their needs and their pocketbook is no longer going to be available. So, you have to ask, why did the president continue to say that? And if they did know that many people were going to lose their plans three years ago, why did he continue over the three-year period? Who was informing him or who was not informing him that there were millions of Americans who were going to see a loss of health insurance?

Now, when you talk about what is working in some of the states, and Sheila referenced Kentucky and California. Basically what they have is Medicaid expansion. And in Kentucky, 21,000 of the 26,000 enrollees are those that have enrolled for Medicaid. What we are seeing in Tennessee is that people are losing. We've got about 28,000, 30,000 people that have lost a small business, access to a small business insurance program due strictly to the new president's health care law regulations. So it has changed the marketplace.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Right. Let's let -

REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D), TEXAS: Wolf - Wolf, let -

BLITZER: Go ahead, Sheila Jackson Lee.

LEE: There again, you have untruth and misrepresentation. And Marsha knows well that all the Republicans are trying to do is recover from their dastardly and horrible avocation for the shutdown of the government. This is giving them a birthday gift and, as well, this allows them to scare Americans and put on the Halloween mask early before Halloween. The governor of the state of Kentucky has said it is working well for the private sector. And good for him. He has expanded Medicaid, which is part of the program that the president promised and is given through the Affordable Care Act. Millions of Americans will come through that. I'm sorry that my state, among others, is not one that accepted that.

But the key is, did the president misrepresent? No, he did not. And insurance leaders will tell you, they're not canceling and taking individuals off of insurance plans that are, in fact, adequate and compliant. They're taking them off of plans that do not have the new benefits, the benefits that every person is looking to in new plans based on the Affordable Care Act. And what Marsha fails to acknowledge is that these individuals, working Americans, will get tax subsidies, legitimate payments will come because they are in a new plan.

BLITZER: Right.

BLACKBURN: OK, Wolf, let me respond to some of that.

LEE: This is a good plan. This is a working plan and millions of Americans will benefit and lives will be saved.

BLITZER: Go ahead. Congresswoman Blackburn, go ahead.

BLACKBURN: Yes. Yes, absolutely. When Sheila talks about subsidies, I think it's important to note, this is money coming from the federal treasury. Many people say we're $17 trillion in debt. We're borrowing $2 billion a day. We cannot take on a new entitlement which is going to push us further into debt. So that is issue number one.

LEE: There we go again.

BLACKBURN: We - well, it's very true, Sheila. You can look at the Treasury Department. We're borrowing $2 billion a day to keep the doors open.

And, number two, the programs, the mandate, these essential benefit mandates, these are things that people are being required to pay for even though it may be a health service that they don't need or don't want or doesn't hit their family's needs, but yet they're going to be charged for it. And the premium is going to reflect that.

LEE: Wolf -

BLACKBURN: Now, the president made another promise that this would save the average family about $2,500 a month. The letters and the things that I am getting, the e-mails I'm getting from my constituents, there is no one that is saving money. I have not gotten a single e-mail from a person who is saying -

BLITZER: I think what he said was $2,500 a year -- $2,500 a year, not $2,500 a month.

BLACKBURN: Yes, you're correct. I'm sorry.

BLITZER: Yes.

BLACKBURN: That's right. But, see, nobody is saving $2,500 a year. They're paying more.

LEE: But, Wolf, let me - let me respond to again what Marsha is saying. She is not allowing the plan to work. That's the problem. She is not allowing the plan to work. Do I need to go back to the horrific Medicare Part D that no one liked and was enormously expensive and really caused the deep deficit climb that we had from the Bush administration into the Obama administration? But look where it is today. The Affordable Care Act has reformed it and refined it and made it work. It was enormously expensive. It did not work, but we've made it work.

BLACKBURN: That is incorrect.

LEE: On this issue of the deficit, mixing apples and oranges. First of all, we have a $4 trillion economy. And the United States is not broke. Of course we need to deal with this. But the Affordable Care Act is paid for. And the Republicans, during the shutdown, wanted to undermine the pay for by dismantling the medical device issue, of course, because they don't want to see this legislation pass. They want to see it fail, not pass, succeed.

BLITZER: All right.

LEE: There are millions of Americans that will get health care. The president did not misrepresent. You will keep your health insurance. And you'll have the ability to get a more refined, a more updated, a more current and more expansive for you and your family. I'm here to save lives. I'm not here to frighten people. I want to save lives. BLITZER: All right.

LEE: I hear the stories, I know the stories and I know that women, children and families --

BLITZER: Sheila -

BLACKBURN: Wolf, let me respond to what -

BLITZER: Sheila Jackson - hold on a second, Sheila Jackson Lee, I gave Congresswoman Jackson Lee the first word. I'm going to give Marsha Blackburn the last word, but keep it brief.

BLACKBURN: The program is too expensive to afford. You cannot keep the health insurance or the doctors that you have been seeing. This is changing the entire health care marketplace. The incompetence on this rollout has been staggering. The American people are looking at this and saying, if you can't manage a website, then you certainly cannot manage health care and you cannot manage one-sixth of the nation's economy. So they think it is time for us to just suspend all of this and start over.

BLITZER: Marsha Blackburn, Sheila Jackson Lee, a good solid, serious debate, as I knew it would be. Thanks to you both of you ladies for joining us.

BLACKBURN: Thank you.

BLITZER: On the first anniversary of the Superstorm Sandy, we're going to talk with the Atlantic City mayor, Lorenzo Langford, about the ongoing recovery in his city. Stay with us.


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