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CNN "Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees" - Transcript: Affordable Care Act

Interview

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Date:
Location: Unknown

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ, (D), FLORIDA & DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRWOMAN: Thank you. Good to be here.

BLITZER: You argue the Democrats should not run away from the Affordable Care Act, in fact, they should be proud of the Affordable Care Act. But plenty of Democrats who are pretty nervous about the Obamacare website, and the problems that have been caused by it, could hurt their chances of re-election or election?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: More than just arguing that they shouldn't run away, I'm arguing, and believe, that Democrats through next year's election will be able to run on the Affordable Care Act and its benefits as an advantage.

BLITZER: What if it's not working? What if the website really isn't working and --

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: But is it working.

BLITZER: But what if the numbers aren't there, the million healthy young people who need to get insurance in order to subsidize older, sicker, poorer people who are going to be getting a lot of insurance?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: What we're focused on is making sure people know about the benefits, have an opportunity to go on the website, like they have been since Monday, where over two million in people in the last three days, Wolf, have been able to get on healthcare.gov, shop around, compare plans. And tens of thousands signed up in the last few days. Making sure people who have a preexisting condition, like I do as a breast cancer survivor, can't be dropped or denied coverage for that preexisting condition, making sure people have life-saving access to preventive care so that they can stay healthy instead of only getting access when they're sick. Those are critical benefits, when cared to what Republicans want do, which is repeal or sabotage the Affordable Care Act or shut down the government and hold the economy hostage in order to do it, that's the choice voters will have. And I think voters will choose our candidates who have been trying to give them quality, affordable health care.

BLITZER: You're a breast cancer survivor.

(CROSSTALK)

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: In fact, my six-year anniversary's this weekend.

BLITZER: Everything's OK?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Yes, thank god.

BLITZER: It's good to know that.

So you have to switch insurance, right?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Yes.

BLITZER: Because you're a member of Congress. You have to go to the healthcare.gov website. Have you done all that already?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Yes. I'm in the middle of comparing plans for my own family right now.

BLITZER: Why are you waiting so long? It started October 1st. It's December.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I'm a little busy, so --

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: How long does it take to get -- I mean, you have to --

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: You want to have the same doctors, the same hospitals, the same access as you -- you look your medical treatment that you received over the years?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Yes.

BLITZER: Will you be able to have that?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Yes, absolutely. I --

BLITZER: Are you sure?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I'm 100 percent sure. I've already found -- (CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Though you haven't signed up yet?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Right. I've found plans on the D.C. shop that members of Congress are eligible for and our staff, that have my doctors, that have the benefits that are essential for my family.

BLITZER: So what --

(CROSSTALK)

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: In fact, actually, with dental care -- I'm a mom. I have three kids. Two of my kids are going to need orthodontia next year. I have a plan that has better coverage for their orthodontia and their dental plan than the plan that we have now.

BLITZER: What about cost? Will you be paying more, will you be paying less? How is that working out?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: It's really a choice. The choice I have is to pay a higher deductible -- we don't have a deductible on our plan now that we use -- and have lower premiums or pay higher premiums and have a lower deductible. I'm kind of actually in the midst of trying to figure that out.

BLITZER: But you have access to the same companies, whether Blue Cross, United Healthcare?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Yes.

BLITZER: All right. The same -- who did you used to use?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Blue Cross Blue Shield.

BLITZER: Will you continue with Blue Cross Blue Shield?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I can, if I want to, still use Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida or --

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: So basically the same policy?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: -- or Aetna or United Healthcare. There's 112 choices.

BLITZER: You'll basically have the same -- you'll have the same policy, basically?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Yes.

BLITZER: At the same cost or more?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: No, I can -- I will either have the same cost or little bit less. I can pay more if I want a totally zero deductible plan.

BLITZER: Your staff can continue as it used to continue?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Most of the staff are paying less.

BLITZER: Are they going to the Affordable Care Act, too?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Yes. They're all going to be. My staff is all going on the exchange.

BLITZER: You told them that you want them to go the Affordable Care Act?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Yes.

BLITZER: You saw the controversy with Harry Reid?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Yeah.

BLITZER: That his staff --

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: My staff is all going.

(CROSSTALK)

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: All of my eligible staff is going on the exchange.

BLITZER: Is that a political problem for the Democrats? The Democratic leader in the Senate decided he would do what Mitch McConnell didn't do, what the other leaders -- Nancy Pelosi didn't do, what the speaker didn't do. Is that a problem?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: The Affordable Care Act is about choice, making sure everybody has access to the quality affordable health care and can make their own choices, and each member has to make their decision.

BLITZER: I want to get your quick reaction. We're now hearing from "Politico," other sources -- Dana Bash just interviewed Eric Cantor -- that Republicans are now tutoring some Republicans --

(LAUGHTER)

-- are not dealing with women's issues because of some of the Todd Akin gaffes and other problems in the last -- you're smiling, you're laughing. Why is that so funny?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: It's a riot that Republicans feel, if they just give their candidates sensitivity training, that this is going to clear up all of the problems that they have with women voters. What they need to do is have some sessions on the issues that are important to women and how bad their policies are for women. They oppose Equal Pay for Equal Work legislation. They oppose -- they've tried to defund Planned Parenthood repeatedly, cut out Title X funding, which is family planning. They've consistently tried to have bosses be able to make decisions for women's health care choices. They are totally wrong on the issues that matter to women and that's why they keep losing the women's vote, and they will continue to.

BLITZER: So the schooling, the tutoring, you don't think will make much of a difference?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Learning how to be touchy-feely is not going to be the key to their success.

BLITZER: Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chair of the Democratic National Committee. She's smiling, laughing.

(LAUGHTER)

She likes that story obviously.

Congresswoman from south Florida.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Thank you.

BLITZER: Thanks very much for coming in.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Happy holidays.

BLITZER: Thank you. You, too.

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