Mike Pence photo

Remarks by the Vice President on Obamacare in Lexington, Kentucky

July 12, 2017

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Hello, Kentucky! (Applause.) Thank you so very much for coming out on this balmy summer day.

It is great to be back in the Bluegrass State. And I bring greetings from my friend, the man Kentucky voted overwhelmingly to make the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump. (Applause.)

The President sent me here today to thank you all, thank the good people of Kentucky for your unwavering support. And I promise you, you elected a fighter. You elected a winner. And no matter what issue the media may be focused on, on any given moment, 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. (Applause.)

And, man, have you got a great governor in Governor Matt Bevin. (Applause.) Governor Bevin, thanks for that kind introduction. I can honestly say I was for Matt Bevin before it was cool. (Laughter.) And I just have to tell you, Governor, you have just done such an incredible job here, changing the fortunes and the future of the Bluegrass State. Give Governor Matt Bevin another round of applause, will you? He's doing an awesome job. (Applause.)

I also want to say thanks to a couple of other great Kentucky public servants who are here with us today. You just heard from both of them. These are two leaders in Congress who I promise you have been strong conservative voices and strong partners for President Donald Trump -- Congressman Andy Barr and Congressman Brett Guthrie. Thank you for being here. Thank you for your outstanding leadership. (Applause.)

And last but not least, I want to thank you to Terry Bryant and the whole Bryant's Rent-All team for opening up this successful business to us today. (Applause.)

You know, Bryant's Rent-All is a real American success story. And I'm just glad to hear Terry tell them that they're now on the map as of this event today.

But you've been on the map for a long time, Terry. Truth be told. This has been a family-owned business for more than 60 years. In fact, three generations of Bryants have helped grow this business from its humble roots to a party and equipment rental powerhouse here in the Bluegrass State. Let's give them one more round of applause for welcoming us and for all they do to contribute to the prosperity of this community. (Applause.)

President Trump and I both know just how important small businesses like this one are to America, to jobs and a growing economy. Small businesses like this and those represented here today so well are the beating heart of communities large and small -- creating jobs and opportunities. And small businesses are out there contributing to every worthy cause that comes along in each community.

Just know that today your President is grateful for what you do, each and every day. And let me make these job creators who are with us a promise: President Donald Trump will be the best friend American small businesses will ever have. (Applause.)

? Just look at the record. Thanks to President Trump's leadership, since the start of this year, American businesses have created more than 800,000 good-paying jobs all across the United States.

Companies large and small are making extraordinary investments all across America, billions of dollars, thousands of new jobs. And small businesses like Bryant's Rent-All haven't been this confident about the future in more than a decade.

And truth be told, you should be confident. Because since day one of this administration, President Trump has been taking decisive action to deliver on the promises that he made to the people of Kentucky and people all across this country.

As I speak to you today, President Trump has signed more laws rolling back federal red tape than any President in American history. (Applause.) We've already saved businesses and working families up to $18 billion a year in red tape costs.

The President put American energy first when he authorized the Keystone and Dakota pipelines to get American energy flowing to American homes and business. (Applause.)

And every day, this President puts America first -- just like last month, when President Donald Trump announced to the world that this administration had made the decision to withdraw the United States of America from the Paris climate accord. (Applause.)

? It's remarkable to think the Paris accord, by one estimate, could have cost America 6.5 million jobs over the next 25 years, while letting countries like China and India virtually scot-free. But as our President said, he was elected by the people of Pittsburgh, not Paris. And I'll add of Lexington, not Lisbon. This President will always put America first. (Applause.)

And speaking of Europe, at this very moment we're seeing the bold leadership of an American President on the world stage, President Donald Trump has been showing the world that we once again have an American President who stands without apology as the leader of the free world. (Applause.)

Today as we speak, the President is accepting an invitation from President Macron in France. He's departing in just a few short hours to mark the 100th anniversary of the entry of American forces onto French soil during World War One.

And last week, the President concluded a historic trip to Poland and Germany -- and his speech in Warsaw was one for the ages. Wasn't it?

In this time of widening challenges and unknowable threats, President Trump challenged all who cherish freedom to in his words, work together to confront the forces that threaten to undermine our values, erase the bonds of culture, faith, and the tradition that make us who we are.

? And President Donald Trump declared to all of the world and all who would threaten our way of life, "the West will never, ever be broken. Our values will prevail. Our people will thrive, and our civilization will triumph." (Applause.)

Folks, that's what American leadership looks like on the world stage. And serving with him every day, I know: President Donald Trump has no higher priority than the safety and security of the American people.

As the proud father of a United States Marine, I couldn't be more proud -- thank you -- I couldn't be more proud to serve as Vice President to a President who cares so deeply about the men and women of our armed forces, their families, and our veterans.

Earlier this week, I pause right now with a heavy heart, my wife and I awakened as all of you did to learn that 15 Marines and one Navy corpsman had perished in a plane crash in Mississippi. The President called it "heartbreaking," and his prayers, his family's prayers, and my little family's prayers, along with all of you are for these heroes and their families and their loved ones. When heroes fall, America grieves. And we honor and remember the families of those fallen in Mississippi this week.

But rest assured: President Donald Trump is fighting every day to give our men and women in uniform the resources and support they deserve. I'm pleased to report this President has already signed the biggest increase in defense spending in nearly 10 years. (Applause.)

And in the President's budget he called for the greatest investment in military readiness since the days of President Ronald Reagan. Under President Donald Trump, we will rebuild our military. We will restore the arsenal of democracy, and we will once again give our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guard the resources and training they deserve to accomplish their mission and come home safe. That's our pledge. (Applause.)

And under the leadership of this Commander-in-Chief, I'm proud to report our armed forces are taking the fight to the enemy on our terms, on their soil. And just this week American forces helped Iraqi forces liberate Mosul from the grip of ISIS, and as the President said today, ISIS is on the run and we'll wipe them out soon -- all the way to Raqqa. (Applause.)

When it comes to homeland security, as well, President Trump had taken decisive steps to secure our borders, enforce our laws, and remove dangerous gang members and drug dealers from our streets. Under President Donald Trump, I'm proud to report illegal crossings at our southern border are down by more than 60 percent since the start of this year. (Applause.)

And working with local law enforcement, our Justice Department is busy removing dangerous MS-13 gang members from the streets of our cities.

So it's about prosperity. It's about security. It's about strengthening America at home and abroad. President Donald Trump has done all that and more -- and it's only been six months, folks.

? But as our President likes to say in the Oval Office where I just with him this morning that's what we call a good start in the Trump White House. (Applause.)

The truth is we've got a lot more work to do. And I came here today to assure you, I came here today to turn up the heat on a promise that every Republican made to the American people and this President made to the American people and tell you that we will keep our promise to all of you. And before the summer is out, we will repeal and replace Obamacare. (Applause.)

You all remember the broken promises they made to get Obamacare passed. I just talked about them with job creators from across the Lexington area. Remember? They said if you like your doctor you could keep them -- not true. They said if you like your health insurance you could keep it. Tens of thousands in Kentucky have found out the hard way -- not true. We were told that health insurance costs would go down.

Now we know the facts. Here in Kentucky, the average premium on the individual market has spiked by a staggering 75 percent just in the past four years. Now President Obama and all those that advocated Obamacare promised us that you would save up to $2,500 per year if Obamacare became law. The Governor just mentioned that statistic today. But today instead of the average American saving $2,500 a year, average Obamacare premium costs are $2,000 more today than they were just in 2013.

And the truth is it's only getting worse. Working families in Kentucky are facing double-digit premium hikes heading into 2018. And while costs are skyrocketing, choices are plummeting.

I heard it from these job creators who we just had a conversation with today. The truth is right now a third of American counties, including five whole states, have only one choice of Obamacare insurer -- meaning they essentially have no choice at all.

And come next year, 40 percent of American counties are expected to be in the same situation -- including nine entire states. Even worse, tens of thousands of Americans may have no Obamacare coverage whatsoever.

Choices are declining because health insurers as you've seen here in Kentucky are abandoning this failed law left and right.

On Monday our administration actually announced that the number of health insurers who plan even on participating in Obamacare in 2018 has dropped nearly in half in just the last two years. And it's likely that even more will drop out between now and the end of this year.

Just look at what's happening right here in Kentucky. Next year, nearly 50 percent of the Bluegrass State -- 59 out of your 120 Kentucky counties -- will have only one insurer to choose from on the state exchange.

Kentucky is a case study of Obamacare's failure. And the remarkable thing is that many states have it even worse than Kentucky does.

Folks, we're talking about real people facing a real crisis. I never want to forget, as we remember these statistics -- and you have to cite the statistics to be able to reflect on the magnitude of the failure of Obamacare. But behind every number is a name. Behind every statistic is a story of real Americans and real businesses that are struggling. I've heard these stories as I've traveled all across this country -- from working families, single moms, and parents with disabled children who've suffered under the burden of Obamacare.

Just a few moments ago, I heard from Terry Bryant and other small-business owners from Kentucky about how Obamacare has stifled their business and hurt their employees.

I took a few notes as I was talking to them -- people like

Julie Roberts with Servpro. She's got about 40 employees. Since 2010, she told me that the average premiums per-employee per-month had gone up from $36 a month to $109 a month, and worse still, while the cost of her health insurance had gone up for her employees, the deductibles have increased from $1,500 to about $4,000.

I heard from a local hotel business owner who explained to me that while he was thinking about building a couple more hotels, creating lots of new, good-paying jobs, creating lots of great construction jobs and all the ancillary investments that go with expansion here in the Lexington area -- because of Obamacare, and Obamacare alone, and the cost of health insurance, he was holding off. Well, I told him today: Help is on the way. Go ahead and break ground. We're going to repeal and replace Obamacare with your help. (Applause.)

Folks, the truth is as I talk to these small business owners, it's the same story I hear all across the country. Despite the people who go on television one after another and say that Obamacare just needs a little fix here and there, the truth is that Obamacare has failed and Obamacare must go.

You'd have to be a politician blinded by partisanship to believe otherwise. Unfortunately Congress is full of them. The truth is -- and it's a hard truth -- the very same politicians who gave us Obamacare now won't lift a finger to help the American people out from under its collapsing weight. In fact, they're claiming that Obamacare is working.

I mean, Democrats in Congress would rather let Obamacare continue to implode than admit their mistake and help Republican majorities rescue the American people from this failed policy. But I'm here to promise you they won't stop us. Because President Donald Trump and the leadership in the Congress will not rest. We will not relent until we rescue the people of Kentucky and all across America from Obamacare. (Applause.)

And I got to tell you folks, I got to tell you folks: I'm standing here in the heat -- you are too -- but I'll give you a word of encouragement: We are very close to achieving what we've talked about for the last seven years. The House of Representatives has already done its job, and give another round of applause to Congressman Guthrie and Congressman Barr from stepping up. Stepping up and keeping their promise to the people of Kentucky. (Applause.)

But now the Senate is going to work. Thanks to the leadership of Kentucky's own Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, tomorrow the Senate will release an updated bill that will begin the end of Obamacare. (Applause.) Voting could start as early as next week so I need you to stay tuned, and I need you to stay engaged.

Let me just take a word and say the President and I couldn't be more grateful for Senator Mitch McConnell's leadership and commitment to an agenda that will make America great again. (Applause.) He's doing a great job. And the President and I want to commend Leader McConnell's decision to keep the Senate in session through the first two weeks of August until they get the job done. (Applause.)

With the support of the leadership of Senator McConnell, we've rolled back red tape. We confirmed Justice Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court of the United States. (Applause.) And under his leadership and the help of Kentucky's other senator, we're going to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Now let me say from my heart, the President and I really like Senator Rand Paul. I've known him for a lot of years. He's a man of principle and conviction. Senator Rand Paul is a great conservative and a great legislator, and he does Kentucky proud. (Applause.)

And let me say as this debate begins, the debate on the floor of the Senate begins next week, the amendments begin -- an important amendment to move this bill forward. The President and I believe when the time comes, Senator Mitch McConnell and Senator Rand Paul will do the right thing together, and we will pass legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare and end the Obamacare nightmare once and for all. (Applause.)

And let me promise you the bill before the United States Senate does just that. Plain and simple, this bill begins the process of repealing and replacing this failed policy. Here's a couple of for instances: This legislation puts American healthcare back on the path to freedom -- more choices, more affordable. This bill will repeal Obamacare's mandates and taxes on the American people and American businesses and restore freedom and create jobs all across this nation. (Applause.) I just heard about it.

This legislation will expand health savings accounts and offer tax credits to help every American buy the coverage you need at a price you afford. It will ensure that every American with preexisting conditions has access to the coverage and the care that you need -- no exceptions. And this bill improves and strengthens Medicaid for the people who need it most with better coverage, better care, and better outcomes that Governor Bevin and your state legislature can decide to meet Kentucky's unique needs the Kentucky way. That's what we're going to have when we repeal and replace Obamacare. (Applause.)

I'll never forget being here for Governor Bevin's inaugural address. When he actually called me out from the podium, he announced his intention to reform Medicaid -- I was governor of Indiana at the time. He said he was going to base it on some of the conservative principles we used in Indiana when I was governor. And then he did a little bit of trash-talking. (Laughter.) He said he was pretty sure Kentucky could do a better job than Indiana. Well, I tell you what, President Trump and I are going to make sure that he has the chance to try Kentucky solutions for the most vulnerable in Kentucky. That's how we'll reform and improve Medicaid. (Applause.)

The Senate bill and the House bill that passed before it gives states like Kentucky all the freedom and flexibility that your governor will need to reform Medicaid and meet the real needs of your most vulnerable.

I just talked to a very inspiring mom. She happens to be a business owner. She runs Remedy Intelligent Staffing, but Lynn Braker is here. She told us a story about the cost of Obamacare and then she broke and she started to brag about her boy Anderson. And Anderson is a Down syndrome boy, and you could tell he's the light of her life. The truth of the matter is I said to her that when we give states the flexibility to reform Medicaid, we're going to be able to make sure that states like Kentucky can focus Medicaid resources on those who need it most. I just told Lynn, I had some families out in Washington -- I met a mom of a special needs child from Illinois and she told me that after Illinois expanded traditional Medicaid the way that Kentucky did years ago, she got a notice from the state of Illinois that said that medicine that her special needs son had received before that had been paid for by the state of Illinois' Medicaid program would no longer be paid.

I mean, men and women, it's what the Governor just said a minute ago. Medicaid was formed for the aged, the blind, the disabled, for people with special needs, for dependent children. Once we give states like Kentucky the ability to reform Medicaid the Kentucky way once again, we're going to make sure that Lynn and her wonderful son Anderson have the support that they need to have the quality of life and the healthcare that every person in Kentucky wants them to have. (Applause.)

President Trump and I believe in state-based solutions and state-based reforms. The bottom line is the Senate bill is going to do just that. It will end the Obamacare nightmare, it will begin to replace it with a healthcare system that's built on individual responsibility, free-market principles and state-based innovation.

But I came here today to turn up the heat because this is the moment. Now is the time. It's time for Congress to step up and repeal and replace Obamacare. (Applause.)

For the past seven years, we've had a healthcare system based on the flawed premise that the federal government could order every American to buy health insurance, whether they want it or need it or not -- that bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. and politicians know better than patients and doctors. And worst of all, that the American people can't be trusted to run their own lives and make their own healthcare choices without the heavy hand of government.

Now we have a chance before us in days, maybe weeks, but not months, to restore a healthcare system based on the time-honored American principles of personal responsibility and state-based reform. And above all else, we have a chance to restore a healthcare system based on the ultimate American principle of freedom by giving Americans more freedom to buy health insurance the way we buy life insurance, the way we buy car insurance. As we'll ultimately do when we move all the legislation that we have to move, we're going to lower the cost of health insurance with more competition, with more choices, with more state-based innovation and reform. That's the American way to meet healthcare needs in the 21st century. (Applause.)

This legislation is the beginning, and once we sign this legislation into law, get ready, there's more to come. And the President and I are going to continue to work with this Congress to expand the choices that Americans have to purchase health insurance.

As soon as we repeal and replace Obamacare, make no mistake about it -- next stop, with the strong support of these members of Congress, we're going to get this economy moving by cutting taxes across the board for working families, small businesses, and family farms. (Applause.) And we're going to cut taxes on businesses so companies like Bryant's Rent-All and all those represented here can compete with companies around the world to create jobs here in Kentucky. (Applause.)

So we've got a lot of work to do, everybody. And time is a wasting, and this is where you come in. President Trump and I are counting on all of you. This is the moment. Now is the time for the Congress to act, but this also the time for your moment. We need you to stand up and speak out. Let your voices be heard to our elected representatives.

If you haven't noticed, the other side is certainly showing up for the debate, and it's their every right. That's what freedom looks like. But we need people who know we can do better than Obamacare to let their voices be heard. Send an email, pick up the phone, let your elected representatives know the real story of Obamacare that we heard from these business owners today. Tell them that we can do better. Tell them that we can put America back on a path to prosperity, opportunity, and freedom.

But it's going to take courage, and it's going to take leadership in Washington, D.C. And make no mistake about it, there are many voices in our Nation's Capital, and you see them on TV all the time. But there is no more compelling voice in Washington, D.C. than the voice of the American people. So let your voice be heard. (Applause.)

And there's one more thing that I might ask you to do if you're of a mind: In these too divided times, I would urge you to do what Americans have done throughout our history, in much more challenging times than this. If you're inclined to bow the head and bend the knee, it's a good time to do it. Whether we look at the disarray on the world stage, whether we look at the divisions and the challenges here at home, the burden of failed policies and the struggling economy, it would be a good time to remember -- it would be a good time to remember our nation in your prayers.

Now I'm not talking about -- as I close here, I'm not really talking about praying for a cause or praying for an agenda even. I rather like what Abraham Lincoln said in his time when he was asked in a great national struggle in which the nation was gripped throughout the Lincoln administration. He was asked if he thought God was on the side of the Union Army, and our 16th President simply said, you know my concern is not so much whether God is on our side, but whether we're on God's side. So pray for America. Pray for this country that we're blessed to call home. Because America matters far beyond our shores. (Applause.)

So, folks, I'm going to let you get back to somewhere where it's a little cooler. (Laughter.) And I'm going to let you get to work. Because I didn't come here just to talk and you didn't come here just to listen. You came here to do the work. I promise you, President Trump and I are absolutely dedicated, along with these great elected officials at every level, to keep the promises we made to the American people.

And if all of us do all that we can, I believe in all of my heart, with boundless faith in the American people, and with faith in Him that put this miracle of democracy on these wilderness shores, and with President Donald Trump in the White House, together, we will make America safe again. Together, we will make America prosperous again. And, to borrow a phrase: Together, we will Make America Great Again.

Thank you very much. God bless you. God bless Kentucky, and God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)

Mike Pence, Remarks by the Vice President on Obamacare in Lexington, Kentucky Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/329503

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