Kentucky Still Ground Zero For Healthcare Debate

Mar 13, 2017

With Republicans working to sort through their differences over post-Obama health reforms, Kentuckians heard two starkly different assessments of the new GOP plan over the weekend.

Landing in the commonwealth and speaking at Harshaw Trane Parts and Distribution Center in Louisville Saturday, Vice President Mike Pence stumped for the Paul Ryan-led plan making its way through Congress. The former Indiana governor pledged an end to the “nightmare of Obamacare” and pitched the new reform effort as the right solution for Kentucky and the nation.

"We're going to give American more choices. We'll expand health savings accounts. We'll give Americans a tax credit that will help people buy plans that they need at a price they can afford. We'll make sure that Americans with pre-existing conditions still have access to the coverage and the care that they need," Pence promised.

But the vice president acknowledged pushback on the plan, with the sharpest critique coming from Kentucky’s own Senator Rand Paul. In an appearance on CBS’s Face the Nation Sunday, the libertarian favorite said the Republican plan fails to address the Affordable Care Act’s most visible problem – rising insurance premiums – and accused Ryan of rushing through an unsatisfactory bill.

"[The bill] keeps the subsidies, keeps the taxes for a year, then keeps the Cadillac tax forever, the tax on good insurance, keeps the individual mandate interestingly," Paul said. "Republicans have complained for years saying we didn't like that the government was going to make you pay a penalty. Well, now instead of paying the penalty to the government, you pay the penalty to the insurance industry." 

Paul warned of a conservative revolt if the plan emerges untouched from committee.

Meanwhile, the anticipated release of Congressional Budget Office numbers on the GOP health plan’s projected cost and effects could further intensify the debate on Capitol Hill.