Pence takes GOP healthcare pitch on the road
BY MAX GREENWOOD – 03/11/17 12:50 PM EST
Vice President Mike Pence on Saturday took the Trump administration’s pitch for the GOP’s ObamaCare repeal on the road.
“The top priority that the president gave us, to work with members of Congress to make sure that the ObamaCare nightmare is about to end,” Pence said in Louisville, Ky., describing a deteriorating state of health coverage in the U.S. marked by rising premiums and dwindling competition among insurers.
Pence vowed to stand by the GOP’s healthcare plan, and insisted that the transition would be swift and orderly. But the vice president focused the brunt of his address on pointedly attacking the Affordable Care Act as an unworkable and failed policy.
“Virtually every promise of ObamaCare has been broken,” he said. “They told us the cost of health insurance would go down. Not true. They told us if you like your doctors, you can keep them. Not true. They told us if you like your health plan, you can keep it. Not true.”
“The truth is, the American people are struggling under ObamaCare everyday,” he added.
Pence is also meeting with Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) and business leaders in Louisville to talk up the GOP’s proposed bill.
Kentucky was among the states to accept ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion, and the uninsured rate in the state has dropped drastically under the law, sinking from 20 percent to roughly 8 percent.
Still, it has faced strong opposition there, and Bevin has taken actions to reduce the footprint of the law in his state. He closed the state-run insurance exchange in 2016, and has vowed to end the Medicaid expansion.
House Republicans on Monday unveiled a measure that would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, to mixed reviews. Trump promptly backed the legislation and urged Republicans to quickly push it through Congress.
But some conservative lawmakers have rejected the bill as “ObamaCare lite” or “ObamaCare 2.0,” arguing that it does not go far enough to undo former President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law.
If passed, the bill would do away with several of the ACA’s key provisions, including a mandate requiring most Americans to purchase health insurance and a Medicaid expansion, which currently insures roughly 10 million people across 31 states and the District of Columbia.
But it also keeps ObamaCare’s requirement that insurers cover people with preexisting conditions and maintains a rule allowing children to stay on their parents’ insurance policies until age 26.
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and other GOP congressional leaders are betting that Republican lawmakers will vote for the bill out of a desire to fulfill the party’s longtime promise to repeal ObamaCare.
But that notion has been rejected by several members of Congress, such as Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) and Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Mike Lee(R-Utah), who have vowed to stand firmly against the bill. Bevin has also said that he is not a fan of the measure.
Opposition from rank-and-file Republicans, as well as Democrats’ fierce rejection of the measure, sets the stage for a potentially bitter legislative fight.
Nevertheless, Pence told Fox News’ Bret Baier on Thursday that the current bill would “be done by spring,” an ambitious legislative schedule, considering the wave of backlash from conservative groups and Democrats alike.