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Pence Makes Case For Republican Health Plan In Kentucky

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Vice President Mike Pence stopped in Louisville Saturday to rally support for the Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. As Ryland Barton from Kentucky Public Radio reports, replacing Obamacare is a hard sell for some Republicans.

RYLAND BARTON, BYLINE: The White House dispatched Vice President Mike Pence to pitch the repeal-and-replace effort to conservatives. On Saturday, Pence admitted, it's a challenge.

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VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: Folks, let me be clear. This is going to be a battle in Washington, D.C. And for us to seize this opportunity to repeal and replace Obamacare once and for all, we need every Republican in Congress. And we're counting on Kentucky.

BARTON: Kentucky's U.S. Senator Rand Paul has been one of the loudest opponents of the repeal-and-replace bill, favoring an outright repeal instead. He says the current version of the bill would be dead on arrival in the Senate.

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RAND PAUL: We are divided. We have to admit we are divided on replacement. We are united on repeal, but we are divided on replacement.

BARTON: About 500,000 Kentuckians got health care through the Affordable Care Act, mostly through the expansion of Medicaid. That helped bring the state's uninsured rate from more than 20 percent down to 7 percent. After the Pence event, Republican Congressman Brett Guthrie of Kentucky argued it wouldn't be possible to pass a bill scrapping Obamacare without a replacement.

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BRETT GUTHRIE: So I think if you just do a full repeal and you don't have a replacement in place, it would send us right back to where we were. And I don't think that's the right policy.

BARTON: Meanwhile, Erica Williams, a physician who attended the Pence event, said she just wants Obamacare repealed but a replacement should be tried first.

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ERICA WILLIAMS: The main thing is that we want a hundred percent repeal. So we want all of the power to go to patients and their doctor.

BARTON: For NPR News, I'm Ryland Barton in Louisville, Ky. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.