Virginia’s governor took a sly shot at Mike Pence while introducing him at an event

Mike Pence
Vice President Mike Pence expanded access to Medicaid while he was governor of Indiana, but he now supports the GOP’s efforts to make significant cuts to funding for the program. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe took a shot at Vice President Mike Pence while introducing him at the National Governors Association summer meeting on Friday, praising Pence for showing “true backbone” when he expanded Medicaid as governor of Indiana.

“I thank Vice President Pence — he showed true backbone himself in Indiana when he expanded Medicaid for his citizens,” McAuliffe, a Democrat and the chairman of the NGA, told the audience gathered in Rhode Island. “So he understands the challenges that we as governors face to make sure we’re providing that quality care.”

Pence, who was one of ten Republican governors to expand Medicaid, the government’s health insurance program for low-income Americans, now supports the GOP’s efforts to make significant cuts to Medicaid under an Obamacare replacement bill. Thirty-one states in total expanded access to Medicaid under Obamacare, extending health coverage to 11 million Americans.

McAuliffe, who has been critical of the GOP replacement healthcare bill, which has not gotten any Democratic support, said that Pence “understands” the importance of working across the aisle on key issues, including healthcare.

“He understands that we want to work together in a bipartisan way,” he said. “We want to work together on infrastructure, we want to work together on tax reform, and we want to work together on healthcare, so that we can provide the best quality healthcare for our citizens.”

Pence responded to McAuliffe’s comments during his speech to the group.

“Let me speak to you as a former governor, and as someone who, as Terry McAuliffe pointed out, I made the decision in Indiana to expand Medicaid under a waiver,” Pence said. “You all know your states, you know your people, you know how to create the innovation solutions to address the unique healthcare needs of the people of your states.”

Pence argued that the GOP plan would give governors the flexibility to “act on your own ideas” and emphasised his position that his party’s bill “secures Medicaid for the neediest in our society,” as he tweeted on Friday afternoon.

The Republican bill, known as the Better Care Reconciliation Act, is projected to cut $US772 billion in Medicaid spending by 2026.