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In Lexington, Pence Rallies Support For Republican Health Care Plan

Ryland Barton

As Vice President Mike Pence prepared for an event in Lexington today at a party supply center, a small crowd gathered outside. Kimberley Spencer works at an elementary school cafeteria in Lexington and showed up to protest the event.

Pence was in town to rally support for Republican efforts to scale back the Affordable Care Act, and meet with small businesses he says were harmed by the law. In Spencer’s opinion, Kentucky supporters of President Donald Trump are working against the best interests of poor people in the state.

“I do think it’s ironic that the people that supported him here are going to be the people with the people with the greatest loss,” Spencer said. “Because if they lose their Medicaid it’s going to be a bad situation.”

Kentucky has become a focal point in the battle over Obamacare–Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul have been two of the most vocal opponents to the health care policy, though they disagree over how to dismantle it.

But for Republican Party spokesman Tres Watson, the health care policy needs to be repealed to provide financial relief for the state.

“We’re vastly over budget, combine that with our state’s pension issue and it’s simply unsustainable financially,” he said. “I think Kentuckians are excited to hear and see some movement at the federal level that provides some clarity and some long-term financial sustainability.”

Before his speech, Pence invited a handful of Kentucky business owners to a meeting where they testified about how the Affordable Care Act has driven up insurance costs for their companies and employees.

The Vice President was also joined by Gov. Matt Bevin and Congressmen Andy Barr and Brett Guthrie, who voted in favor of the Obamacare “repeal and replace” plan that passed the House of Representatives earlier this year.

“I promise you, President Donald Trump will never stop fighting for the issues that matter most to the people of Kentucky and the people all across this country,” Pence told the group.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the plan would cause about 23 million people to lose health coverage.

Meanwhile, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders was in Covington earlier this week attacking Republicans for their efforts to repeal the law. About 50,000 Kentuckians have gotten coverage through the Affordable Care Act, mostly through the expansion of Kentucky’s Medicaid program.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives. He's covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin. He has a bachelor's degree from the University of Chicago and a master's degree in journalism from the University of Texas. He grew up in Lexington.

Email Ryland at
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