CNN host Carol Costello on Wednesday hammered former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), who now works at the conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation.
During an interview DeMint accused Obamacare of being “unworkable and unaffordable,” with a chance of destabilizing the market. He said he was encouraged by the GOP’s efforts to repeal the law and ensure health care was “available to every American.”
That’s when Costello nailed DeMint with some difficult questions.
“It seems that Mr. [Donald] Trump, wants a replacement plan before it’s repealed, as you suggested,” she began. “This is what he said on ’60 minutes’ back in December, and I’m going to quote him. He said, ‘This is an un-Republican thing for me to say, I’m going to take care of everybody. I don’t care if it costs me votes or not. Everybody is going to be taken care of much better than they’re taken care of now.’ That sounds an awful lot like Obamacare, except he’s not calling it that.”
DeMint claimed that Americans aren’t being taken care of now, rather they’re “just been pushed onto Medicaid.”
“So, how do you take care of people much better than they’re taken care of now? How can everybody be covered, and Donald Trump added that the government would pay for that?” Costello asked.
DeMint struggled to answer. “Well, we know that you can — we never needed a new health care system. We needed to make it more affordable and available,” he said, before bashing the law again. He urged Congress to pass a law that offers everyone private insurance that is more affordable.
“So, the insurance companies will just go along with that?” Costello asked.
DeMint said that unless the companies want to go out of business, they’ll have to offer affordable plans. “What we have to do is create competition,” he explained. He said that Trump will do that, as well as “create a vibrant insurance market.”
DeMint explained that the last thing America needed was another 200-page comprehensive bill, but declared that he wanted to make the existing system work better.
Costello agreed that there are problems, but said there are still positives to the law.
“For example, this is according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office: Preventive care paid for by Obamacare saves health care costs overall. The typical price increase before Obamacare was around 3 to 4 percent. Obamacare will lower the deficit by $143 billion over the next ten years. So, there are pluses to Obamacare. So, how do you keep the pluses and get rid of the minuses?” she asked.
DeMint called those facts things that could fall “under the category of fake news.” Costello corrected him, noting that they were from the Congressional Budget Office, which scores all the financial information for such bills on both sides of the aisle. He insisted those numbers weren’t real.
“So, all of those 20 million people enrolled in Obamacare, they’re all going broke and it’s not working for any of them?” she asked.
DeMint struggled again, claiming that only 2 to 3 million Americans didn’t have health insurance before Obamacare. The uninsured rate actually peaked at 18 percent before the individual mandate went into effect, according to Gallup. That’s significantly more than just 2 to 3 million people. Yet, DeMint explained that even those uninsured who are now insured are suffering under Obamacare.
“Even those Americans who are on Obamacare, who have catastrophic illnesses like cancer?” she asked.
He claimed cancer was covered by private insurance.
“What if you can’t afford private insurance?” she persisted. “Because it ain’t cheap. Unless you get it through your employer, which most Americans still do, by the way.”
DeMint, again, claimed the GOP plan would make care more affordable and more available to every American.
The president-elect spent the last two years talking about repealing and replacing Obamacare. House Republicans have voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act over 80 times. Yet, Republicans have never agreed on an alternative plan that achieves the same goal but is acceptable to their party and the insurance agencies.
In 1989, The Heritage Foundation was the author of the individual mandate that has been critical in getting insurance companies to being comfortable with the law. In the early 1990s, a Republican plan emerged that ultimately didn’t garner a lot of Republican support.
President Obama has urged Republicans to simply change the name to “Trumpcare” so that they’ll be comfortable with the law and making sure people are covered. Some pundits have even assumed that the GOP will change a few small things with the law and rebrand it exactly that way so that they can take credit for the law Obama and Democrats passed.
You can watch the exchange below: