Pence pitches governors on ObamaCare repeal bill

Pence pitches governors on ObamaCare repeal bill

Vice President Pence on Friday pitched governors on the Senate's bill repealing and replacing ObamaCare, telling them healthcare faced a "real crisis."

“Yes, President Trump will lead this Congress to rescue the American people from the collapsing promises of ObamaCare,” Pence told the National Governors Association summer meeting in Rhode Island.

"Whatever your politics or your party, you know we’re talking about real people, a real crisis,” he added.

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His comments come as Senate GOP leaders are trying to secure the votes needed to pass a revised healthcare reform bill unveiled Thursday.

Centrist Republicans, in particular many from states that accepted Medicaid expansion under ObamaCare, are pushing back on the legislation. They have cited concerns over stark cuts to the program and an amendment from conservative Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzDebbie Wasserman Schultz marks 10 years as breast cancer survivor Foreign agent registration is no magical shield against Russian propaganda Let Trump be Trump and he'll sail through 2020 MORE (R-Texas) they worry will raise premiums on the sick and those with preexisting conditions.

Pence, who has been one of the White House's most public advocates for ObamaCare repeal, tried to address concerns over Medicaid.

“President Trump and I believe the Senate bill strengthens and secures Medicaid for our most vulnerable,” he said.

Republican Govs. John Kasich (Ohio), Brian Sandoval (Nevada) and Charlie Baker (Mass.) went as far as joining four Democratic governors, also concerned about the Medicaid cuts, in writing a letter urging a bipartisan approach to healthcare reform in June.

Those Republican governors could be crucial in determining if the bill has enough votes in the Senate.

GOP Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerDems look to use Moore against GOP Senate hearing shows Fed chair nominee acts the part Senate GOP votes to begin debate on tax bill MORE (Nev.), seen as the upper chamber's most vulnerable Republican in the 2018 midterm elections, stood next to Sandoval to strongly slam an earlier version of the repeal bill.

Heller is undecided on the revised version.

On Friday, Kasich announced his opposition to the revised bill. Ohio Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanMcConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Overnight Finance: House approves motion to go to tax conference — with drama | GOP leaders to consider Dec. 30 spending bill | Justices skeptical of ban on sports betting | Mulvaney won't fire official who sued him How four GOP senators guided a tax-bill victory behind the scenes MORE (R) is also undecided.

Senate Republicans from states that expanded Medicaid pressed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP strategist donates to Alabama Democrat McConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Brent Budowsky: A plea to Alabama voters MORE (R-K.Y.) on Thursday for changes.

They proposed altering a formula that indexes Medicaid to inflation so states can receive more federal support.

So far, two Republicans, Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Health Care: 3.6M signed up for ObamaCare in first month | Ryan pledges 'entitlement reform' next year | Dems push for more money to fight opioids Study: ObamaCare bills backed by Collins would lower premiums Right scrambles GOP budget strategy MORE (Maine) and Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulLexington mayor launches bid for Congress Trump-free Kennedy Center Honors avoids politics Meet the Iran hawk who could be Trump's next secretary of State MORE (Ky.), have said they will vote against proceeding on the bill next week.

McConnell can't afford to lose support from any other Republicans, and needs 50 votes. All Democrats are expected to vote against the bill, which would allow Pence to break the tie.