Vice President Mike Pence side-stepped a question about whether the Republicans’ new Obamacare repeal and replace bill would guarantee health insurance for people with preexisting conditions as Obamcare does now.
“Fox & Friends” host Ainsley Earhardt brought up late-night host Jimmy Kimmel’s impassioned condemnation of the bill, known as Graham-Cassidy, during a Thursday morning interview with the vice president.
“You have folks like Jimmy Kimmel. They’re worried about the preexisting condition thing because this will be up to the governors to decide how the money’s disbursed, who gets coverage,” Earhardt said. “But with that, can you guarantee that these governors will make sure preexisting conditions are covered?”
Pence dodged the question.
“Thomas Jefferson said government that governs least governs best,” he said. “I mean the question that people ought to ask is, who do you think will be more responsive to the health care needs in your community, your governor and your state legislator or a Congress and a president in a far-off nation’s capital?”
The vice president then went on to say that the bill did, in fact, protect those with preexisting conditions, but excluded the word “guarantee.”
“Graham-Cassidy, as its authors have said, contains all the same protections for preexisting conditions, as the president indicated,” Pence said, seemingly referring to the president’s recent claim that the new GOP bill “include[s] coverage of preexisting conditions.”
(Trump tweeted on Wednesday, “I would not sign Graham-Cassidy if it did not include coverage of preexisting conditions. It does! A great Bill. Repeal & Replace.”)
Pence argued that “almost anything would be better than Obamacare,” which he claims is “collapsing across the country,” and said the Graham-Cassidy bill is “our last best chance” to replace Obamacare.
Critics of the bill argue that it would allow insurers to discriminate against people with preexisting conditions, raise premiums for middle-class families, allow lifetime limits on care, and leave tens of millions of Americans uninsured. They claim it would not simply shrink Obamacare — formally known as the Affordable Care Act — as some previous GOP proposals would have, but eliminate key Obamacare programs entirely, upending the national healthcare system.
The Congressional Budget Office will issue a preliminary analysis of the bill by early next week, but the report will not include an estimate of the legislation’s effects on insurance coverage, perhaps the most important information. Congressional Republicans are rushing the bill to the floor before their September 30 deadline.
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