Transcript: Sen. Rick Scott on "Face the Nation," March 31, 2019

Rick Scott says Medicare for all will "ruin our health care system"

The following is a transcript of the interview with Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida that aired Sunday, March 31, 2019, on "Face the Nation"


MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to Florida Republican Senator Rick Scott who joins us from Naples this morning. Senator, welcome to FACE THE NATION. You got your work cut out for you. President Trump said you are one of the senators in charge of coming up with a Republican alternative to Obamacare. When are we going to see your proposal?

SENATOR RICK SCOTT: Well, first off I'm glad the- the president cares about health care. I've- I've- I ran the largest hospital company. I care about the cost of health care and that's what I've focused on. I know it's going to be tough. I look forward to, you know, to seeing what the president's going to put out. But with Nancy Pelosi in the House it's going to be tough to get something done. But we do know that Medicare for all which Senator Sanders is all in on, is going to just ruin our health care system.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you- are you--

SEN. SCOTT: It's going to ruin Medicare.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I'm sorry, just to clarify did you just say that--

SEN. SCOTT: And it's also going to ruin private insurance.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Did you just say that you expect the White House to come forward with the proposal first?

SEN. SCOTT: Well I know- I know- I know in the end the White House is going to have to have their plan and I know it's going to be difficult with Nancy Pelosi. But what I'm going to focus on is how do you drive down costs? The Democrats constantly focus on access. The problem is the cost of health care is too high in this country. That's why I put a bill out this week that requires transparency at the pharmacy, at the- with the insurance companies and says we're not going to allow pharmaceutical companies to charge us more than what they charge in Europe. I had the same issue when I ran a large hospital company. And I said- I did the exact same thing, I said I had hospitals in Europe. I said I'm not paying more for drugs in Europe than I'm paying in the United States. It's- it's not- it's not fair to Americans and that's why I'm going to work hard to get that passed--

MARGARET BRENNAN: It sounds like you and Senator Sanders agree on that.   

SEN. SCOTT: Well, we don't agree on much, but I'm glad he cares about prescription drug prices. But the- the problem the Democrats have is everything they keep doing is raising the cost of health care. Let's look at Obamacare--

MARGARET BRENNAN: But, senator--

SEN. SCOTT: Premiums went up, co-payments went up--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Can- can you just put a button on this, though?

SEN. SCOTT: --deductibles went up.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Clearly the White House is going to have to weigh in, and the White House acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney was on other television programs this morning saying he can promise no one will be left without health care if Obamacare is struck down. But as you've just said there is no plan yet. So how can you promise that- like a state like yours where it has the most people reliant on Obamacare of any state- how can you promise them they won't be left hanging?

SEN. SCOTT: Well, first off, Margaret, my focus is on in how do you drive down the cost of health care? That- that's what's causing people health care- health care issues. You talked- you know, I've been talking to a lot of people in my state about the- like insulin costs, how- why in the world would they go up the way they have? Now, the other thing--

MARGARET BRENNAN: But that's a cost of--

SEN. SCOTT: I- you know- whatever happens with Obamacare--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --a plan that- what if they won't have a plan at all if Obamacare is struck down? Can you promise them that won't be the case?

SEN. SCOTT: Well first off, I'm going to make- I- I think it's first off it's very important that we make sure that people have a pre-existing condition can get in- can get a health care plan. Getting the health care plan that they can afford and I- and I want to work on that with other senators to make sure that happens. We talked about it at the Budget Committee last week and everybody was supportive of that. I want to make sure individuals can stay on their parent's plans. But- but this idea of taking- the government taking over health care and running all of health care has never worked. It's not going to work. We're going- we're going to ruin the entire system. Let's focus on the problem we have. The problem is not access, the problem is the cost of health care and the unbelievable inflation we've seen. Let's start with drug prices. Why are drug prices going up the way they have?

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you think this piece by piece approach is the best way to do it rather than a wholesale Republican alternative?

SEN. SCOTT: Look, I- I want to listen to everybody's ideas. I've sat down with the pharmaceutical companies, the PBMs, the insurance companies, the hospital industry, the pharmacies to ask them their ideas. I- I think the best way of doing this is discuss everybody's ideas and see what we can do.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So that- that sounds like--

SEN. SCOTT: Look, let's focus on--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --the piecemeal. Can--

SEN. SCOTT: --instead of what the Democrats keep doing, is access--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --can you- can you say--

SEN. SCOTT: I wanna focus on driving down costs.

MARGARET BRENNAN:  I- I'm sure people will like things cheaper. They always do. In terms of what they'll actually be able to get though, can you say that the Republican alternative will do things like guarantee access to maternity care or care for newborn children? Mental health? Some of the things that are guaranteed in Obamacare.

SEN. SCOTT: First off, it's very important to me that people get health care. I- I will only support something where people have access to health care, but it's got to be at a price they can afford.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But on those particular instances--

SEN. SCOTT: I grew up in a very poor family. I watched my mom cry that she couldn't get health care for my brother.

MARGARET BRENNAN: On those particular things though, would it provide maternity care?

SEN. SCOTT: Well, of course. I mean--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay.

SEN. SCOTT: But, Margaret, this- the president just put out a marker what he wants to accomplish. I- I think all of us want to be helpful to try to get something done. We know it's going to be difficult with Nancy Pelosi and with the Democrats proposing Medicare for all. We know that. At the same time, what I'm going to do is what I believe we can get done. Let's focus first on prescription drug prices. They're way too high. We shouldn't be paying more than what they pay in Europe. It's unfair to Americans. And let's go piece by piece to try to fix it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And don't expect a wholesale plan until after 2020?

SEN. SCOTT: You know I- look, I- I'm going to continue to work on- I'm- I'm a business guy. The way I got my stuff done in business is every day I said, "What could I get done today?"

MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay.

SEN. SCOTT: And I know a lot of people liked it- like the grand bargains. I personally don't believe in grand bargains. I believe in piece by piece fixing things.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Got it and quickly, do you support the president's call to cut off aid to Central American countries who are sending migrants into the United States?

SEN. SCOTT: I'd have to learn more about it. The- when I went down to the border- we have a crisis. We need- we need more barriers. We have operational control, we need more people and we need more technology. I'm very disappointed that I walked into this job, what, three months ago with the government shut down and the Democrats don't want to give any money for border security, that's wrong.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator, thank you very much. We'll be back in one minute with a lot more FACE THE NATION. Don't go away.