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Vice President Mike Pence argues Ohioans insured through Medicaid expansion won't be left out

Posted: 10:38 PM, Mar 08, 2017
Updated: 2017-03-09 16:13:59Z

As Congress begins taking up the new American Health Care Act, the White House began the process of making their case for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act directly to the American people.

In an exclusive interview with News 5, Vice President Mike Pence defended the plan from the concerns raised by Ohio’s two most powerful Republicans, Senator Rob Portman and Governor John Kasich, who have both expressed worry over the plan's impact on the 700,000 Ohioans now insured through ACA’s expansion of Medicaid.

In a tweet Tuesday, Kasich said “phasing out Medicaid coverage without a viable alternative is counterproductive and unnecessarily puts at risk our ability to treat the drug addicted, mentally ill and working poor who now have access to a stable source of care,” the governor said.

Vice President Pence told News 5 he spoke with Kasich and Portman about this last week.

"When it comes to Medicaid we know that we can give states just like Ohio even more flexibility to make sure that those programs that exist to serve our most vulnerable can be tailored to the unique needs and challenges of the people of your state,” Pence said.

“As a former governor from your neighboring Indiana I can tell you I'm very confident that this legislation will give Ohio both the resources and the flexibility that your governor, your legislature will need to be able to meet those needs going forward and literally offer our most vulnerable citizens even better coverage.”

The price tag of the plan remains unknown as they await a final review by the House Budget Office, Pence argued they weren’t rushing this.

“Well I think we’re moving in a very orderly and timely way,” the Vice President said.

“The Congressional Budget Office  numbers will be out a little bit later this week, maybe early next and policy makers will have a different experience than we had six years ago when frankly the Democrats in the Congress and the last administration wrote Obamacare in a back room and literally brought it to the floor of Congress with very little debate.”

How health care is handled this time will determine the outcome of the 2018 elections, much like it did in 1994 and 2010. Distracting from the discussion though is the debate over tweets from the President, like the one last week that alleged President Obama was behind the wiretapping of Trump Tower during the campaign.

Pence was asked to answer yes or no whether he believed President Trump’s claim to be true.

"Well, what I can say is that the president and our administration are very confident that the congressional committees in the House and Senate that are examining issues surrounding the last election, the run-up to the last election, will do that in a thorough and equitable way.

“They'll look at those issues, they'll look at other issues that have been raised but rest assured our focus is right where the American people are focused and that's on bringing more jobs here to Ohio, creating a better health care system built on consumer choice, rebuilding our military and rebuilding our infrastructure and that will remain the focus of this administration going forward,” Pence said.