Watch CBS News

WH's Marc Short claims Graham-Cassidy guarantees coverage for pre-existing conditions

Trump efforts on the Hill
W.H. Director of Legislative Affairs says Trump is a huge help to efforts on Capitol Hill 06:08

White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short is defending the proposed Graham-Cassidy bill -- Republicans' last-ditch effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act -- by countering criticism that the bill does not provide coverage for those with pre-existing conditions.

"In fact, the Obamacare legislation required coverage of pre-existing conditions. This legislation does not change that. So pre-existing conditions continue to be covered," Short said on CBS News' "Face the Nation."

While he assured that the proposed legislation "guarantees" that pre-existing conditions will continue to be covered, experts say that people with health problems or with pre-existing medical conditions could be charged more if the state they live in obtains a waiver from current requirements that forbid insurers from charging higher premiums based on health status. 

"It's conditional upon them showing how they will continue to make pre-existing conditions covered on an affordable basis. There's also federal dollars that are provided to help states to do that. But nobody can deny that the costs right now are going through the roof," said Short. 

When pressed on the vagueness of the bill's language, Short responded by saying the current system is "unsustainable."

"Everybody knows that having Washington, D.C., as a central hub for this has failed. It's failed American people. And prices are going out the roof," said Short. 

On top of a number Senate Republicans who have already committed to voting "no", the Graham-Cassidy bill has also failed to gain the support of the nation's doctors, hospitals and health insurance plans. But Short maintains that the current law is not working for Americans. 

"Likely, the coverage they have now is not working. The system is not working. Coverage for millions of Americans is not working. That's why, last year, 7 million people chose to pay the penalty instead of get the terrible insurance that's offered on the Obamacare exchanges. They don't want it."

In a joint statement on Saturday, major groups such as the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, America's Health Insurance Plans and the BlueCross BlueShield Association called on the Senate to reject the bill sponsored by GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy.

The groups say "health care is too important to get wrong." 

President Trump continues to push senators to follow through on a shared campaign promise to deliver a repeal and replacement of the ACA. Short said in a conversation with CBS News' John Dickerson that Mr. Trump has been a "huge help" to efforts on Capitol Hill.

"I think he actually is selling it, John," Short said. "I think that he's had many calls with those senators who are on the fence. He's continuing to make calls through the weekend. And you saw his activity in the first go around. So he's continued to stay active."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.