Vice President Mike Pence will talk about health care Wednesday with an invited audience of small business owners at Bryant’s Rent-All on Red Mile Road.
The Office of the Vice President released details of Pence’s visit Tuesday morning. Before making a speech, scheduled to start at 4:10 p.m., Pence is expected to be joined by Gov. Matt Bevin, U.S. Rep. Andy Barr and U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie, all Republicans, for a listening session with local business leaders about “the need to repeal and replace Obamacare.”
The listening session is limited to “leaders in the community whose businesses and employees have been adversely affected by Obamacare.”
Kentucky’s two U.S. senators, who are not scheduled to accompany Pence, have been in the middle of the debate over the Senate’s attempts to replace the Affordable Care Act. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is trying to pass the bill, but Rand Paul remains firmly opposed.
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Paul, who has labeled the Senate bill a bailout for insurance companies, has been in contact with President Donald Trump, his former presidential campaign rival, several times in recent weeks as the Senate attempts to undo former President Barack Obama’s signature legislation.
Studies released in recent days suggest that the Senate bill would dramatically increase the number of Kentuckians without health insurance and cost the state billions of dollars in Medicaid funding.
For example, a study by the nonpartisan Urban Institute projected that Kentucky’s uninsured population would increase from 6.3 percent of the population to 21 percent.
The bill also could cost Kentuckians jobs. A study by the Commonwealth Fund and George Washington University found that Kentucky would lose 32,100 jobs in health care and other fields by 2026.
Republicans counter that the Affordable Care Act must be junked because it has added to the federal deficit and is unsustainable, and that the law has driven up premiums and caused insurance companies to pull out of markets, leaving people with little choice of carriers.
“We are very excited Vice President Pence is coming to Lexington to talk about health care reform,” said Mac Brown, chairman for the Republican Party of Kentucky. “Obamacare is in a downward spiral, driving up premiums and costing Kentuckians jobs. Medicaid is threatening to bankrupt our state budget. While Congress debates how to move forward, one thing is clear: Obamacare must be repealed.”
Opponents of the Republican health care proposal quickly planned a protest of Pence after details about his visit were released.
“We welcome Vice President Mike Pence to speak constructively with vulnerable Kentuckians who stand to lose the most instead of having Rep. Andy Barr and Gov. Matt Bevin carry his water for him in Lexington tomorrow,” said Brad Bowman, spokesman for the Kentucky Democratic Party.