By March 26, 2017 Read More →

Vice President Pence visits WV, says fight to repeal ACA will continue

By Max Garland

The Charleston Gazette-Mail

SCOTT DEPOT, W.Va. —  Vice President Mike Pence promised to continue efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act during a visit to West Virginia Saturday, saying it has hurt Americans and stifled small businesses.

S.B.A. Administrator Linda McMahon, Vice President Mike Pence, and business owners Ronald Reagan Foster and Nancy Regan Foster wave to the crowd of hundreds who attended today’s event at Foster Supply in Scott Depot. JUSTIN ROGERS | Gazette-Mail

Pence, speaking at Foster Supply in Scott Depot, said he was “inspired” by President Donald Trump’s commitment to keep his promise of replacing “Obamacare,” but Congress just wasn’t ready for a replacement.

Pence’s comments came one day after Trump and GOP leaders pulled their bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act off the House floor Friday when it was clear the legislation would fail. House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi, in a tweet, called the bill’s failure “a victory all Americans.”

“I promise you that victory won’t last very long,” Pence said Saturday. He added that Americans “want Obamacare gone.”

Pence said the small business owners he heard from in a “listening session” earlier in the afternoon, which included Foster Supply owner and Putnam County Commissioner Ron Foster, said “Obamacare” stood in the way of economic growth, with limited marketplace options and increased premiums.

“Every promise of Obamacare has been broken,” Pence said.

Proponents of the Affordable Care Act say around 200,000 West Virginians would lose their health care if the Affordable Care Act is repealed without a replacement. That includes the more than 170,000 low-income state residents who have gained health care through expanded Medicaid, a provision of the ACA.

Timothy Burns, an owner of the Hurricane-based landscaping company Grass Masters and a participant in the discussion with Pence, said they did not discuss health care.

“We originally were going to talk about it, but after what happened yesterday, we pulled it,” Burns said, adding that the change was at the request of Pence’s staff. A spokesman for Pence said in an email the “roundtable did discuss health care extensively.”

Burns said he hopes the Affordable Care Act will ultimately be repealed and replaced because of increased costs.

“Something has to be done,” he said.

Pence said the U.S. economy adding 235,000 jobs in February, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is a sign that businesses and consumers are more confident than they have been in years.

He said that growth will continue as the Trump administration looks to roll back environmental regulations in an attempt to revive the declining coal industry.

“The war on coal is over and a new era of American energy has began,” Pence said.

Vice President and SBA Administrator visit West Virginia

Pence said under the Trump administration and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, Washington will cut regulatory red tape and get out of the way of energy producers and coal miners.

Pence also promised that the Trump administration would “pass the largest tax cut since the days of Ronald Reagan” and end illegal immigration with the help of a wall across the U.S.-Mexico border.

“Ron, I just heard you had a wall division here at Foster’s — maybe we need to talk,” Pence said.

Administrator Linda McMahon of the U.S. Small Business Administration and Foster gave remarks prior to Pence, emphasizing how the Trump administration would support small business development.

“West Virginia and Putnam County are a part of rural America that sometimes gets overlooked,” Foster said. “We are grateful to this administration that they recognize small businesses are a part of the engine that will move this country forward.”

After Pence’s remarks in Putnam County, he made an unplanned stop at a rally at the state Capitol in Charleston, where he gave 10-minute campaign-style speech.

A handful of Republican state lawmakers heard about the appearance and rushed to the state’s Veterans Memorial. Several hoped to land a spot on stage as Pence spoke to the crowd of about 60 people.

“Thanks to you all in West Virginia, we have elected a man for president who never quits, who never backs down,” Pence said. “He is a fighter. He is a winner, and I’ve got to tell you from day one in the Oval Office, he’s been fighting for the American people and fighting to keep the promises that he made to the people of West Virginia.”

Pence went on to say that Trump “will not rest, will not relent” until he repeals the Affordable Care Act.

“When Congress is ready, we’ll be ready and we will work with everyone in Congress to give the American people a health care system that they deserve,” Pence said.

Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, called Trump the “greatest president.”

Staff writer Jake Jarvis contributed to this report.

Reach Max Garland at max.garland@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-4886 or follow @MaxGarlandTypes on Twitter.

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