LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) — Vice President Mike Pence said the repeal and replacement of Obamacare will be coming soon and touted a new Senate bill to be introduced on the issue.
The vice president spoke before a friendly crowd of about 300, including small business owners, at Bryant’s Rent-All in Lexington, on Wednesday afternoon.
Before his remarks, he huddled with Gov. Matt Bevin and Congressmen Andy Barr, R-Lexington, and Brett Guthrie, R-Bowling Green, to meet with small business owners to hear their stories about problems with the Affordable Care Act.
Pence told the crowd they are “turning up the heat” on a promise every Republican and President Trump has made to the American people. “We will keep our promise to all of you and, before the summer is out, we will repeal and replace Obamacare.”
He said premiums have risen 75 percent in four years and it’s only getting worse. “Costs are skyrocketing and choices are plummeting.”
“Right now, one-third of American counties, including five whole states, have only one choice for an Obamacare insurer,” Pence said. “And come next year, 40 percent of American counties are expected to be in the same situation, including nine entire states.”
As for how Kentucky will fare, the former Indiana governor had a gloom prediction. “Next year, 59 out of 120-counties will have only one insurer to choose from, on the state exchange.”
Pence also offered a preview of the new Senate repeal and replace legislation, to be introduced on Thursday by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Louisville. “This bill will repeal Obamacare’s mandate and taxes on American businesses, restore freedom and create jobs all across this nation.
“This legislation will expand health savings accounts and offer tax credits that will help every American buy the coverage you need and a price you can afford,” Pence said. “It’ll ensure that every American with pre-existing conditions has access to the coverage and the care that you need, no exceptions.”
Pence said it will improve and strengthen Medicaid “for the people who need it most, with better coverage, better care and better outcomes, that Gov. Bevin and your state legislature can decide to meet Kentucky’s unique needs, the Kentucky way. President Trump and I believe in state-based solutions and state-based reforms.”
He called the bill a way to restore a health care system based on the ultimate American principle of freedom.
“Giving Americans more freedom to buy health insurance, the way we buy life insurance, the way we buy car insurance, as we ultimately will do when we move all the legislation we have to move. We’re going to lower the cost of health insurance with more competition, with more choices with more state-based innovations and reforms. That’s the American way to meet health care needs in the 21st century.”
A series of votes and debate on that bill could begin next week, according to Pence.
He thanked McConnell for his hard work on putting the legislation together and told the crowd he believes both of Kentucky’s senators, McConnell and Rand Paul, R-Bowling Green, an outspoken critic of the current legislation before Congress, will support the new bill. He urged Kentuckians to contact their members of Congress and ask them to support the bill.
Once the repeal and replacement of Obamacare is accomplished, Pence told the crowd what’s next: “We’re going to get this economy moving by cutting taxes across the board. We’re going to cut the taxes on businesses, so companies like Bryant’s Rent-All can compete with companies around the world, and create jobs here in Kentucky.”
While Pence was making his remarks inside, dozens of protestors were next door, speaking against the health care proposals now being debated in Washington.