Remarks by Vice President Mike Pence on Obamacare
2:38 P.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Hello, Florida! I want to thank your governor for that kind introduction. He's been a friend for many years. And, ladies and gentleman, how about that governor, Rick Scott? (Applause.)
Florida is incredibly fortunate to have a leader like Rick Scott. Since he took office, he’s signed over 50 tax cuts, he balanced the budget year after year, and he helped create more than 1.3 million jobs -- one of the fastest-growing state economies in America. (Applause.) The sun is definitely shining on Florida State with Governor Rick Scott. Give him another round of applause, would you please? (Applause.)
Governor, I have to tell you, President Trump and I are proud -- proud to partner with you to make America great again. (Applause.) The same goes with all the other dedicated public servants who are here with us today. And I'm honored to be in their presence. Congressman John Rutherford, Mayor Lenny Curry -- thank you for joining us.
And, Seema Verma, it is such a privilege to have you here. Folks, I had the honor of swearing her in this past Tuesday as the 15th Administrator of America's Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services. She happens to be a Hoosier, and she's one of the leading healthcare experts in the country, and she's going to do an incredible job for people all across this country. (Applause.) Thank all these public servants. (Applause.) I can say with confidence Seema Verma is going to help us make American healthcare great again. And I want to thank you so much for your service, Seema. More than I can tell you, I'm incredibly proud.
Now, it is a great privilege to be with all of you today, back in this great Sunshine State. Last fall, thanks to all of you -- thanks to your hard work, your support, and your prayers -- the people of Florida voted to make Donald Trump the 45th President of the United States of America. (Applause.) Florida made a difference. And the President asked me to stop by just to give his personal thanks to each and every one of you. Hardworking Americans like all of you were our biggest supporters.
And on behalf of the President and his family, and on behalf of my little family: Thank you, Florida. Your votes have set us on a path to make America great again. And we're here to say thanks. (Applause.)
It was quite a campaign, wasn’t it? And it’s already been quite an administration. (Laughter.) It's the greatest honor of my life to serve as Vice President to President Donald Trump. He's my friend. He's a man who loves his family, he loves this country -- boundless energy and optimism, broad shoulders and a big heart. And thanks I want to express on his behalf, as well.
To all the great business owners who are with us today, we enjoyed a great conversation today about the issue that I'll talk more about in just a moment. And join me in thanking these great job-creators in Jacksonville. Thank you for sharing your candid feedback about what we can do to help you grow jobs right here in Jacksonville. Give them all a word of thanks. (Applause.)
Last but not least, I want to thank Mac McGehee and the whole Mac Paper team for hosting us here today. Mac, your family now for three generations have been a pillar in the Jacksonville community for over 50 years, and today you have over 600 employees spread across nine states. You only get that way when you’re doing something right and you're doing it for a long time. The President and I thank you for all that you do. And let's give the whole Mac Paper team a big round of applause for their great, great success and the jobs they've created here. (Applause.) Thank you.
And let me assure you, let me assure all the job-creators, all the people that work for businesses large and small: President Trump, I can assure you -- President Trump is going to be the best friend American small business will ever have. (Applause.)
You know, I grew up in a small business -- a small business family -- actually in a small town in southern Indiana. It was a gas station business. I was a -- I started working as a gas station attendant in one of my father’s gas stations when I was only 14 years of age. And for you young people in the room, we'll explain later what a gas station attendant actually used to do. (Laughter.) As the whole world knows, the President also grew up in a family business, too.
We actually both know, because of our life experiences in our families, we know the sacrifices that are required to make a business work. And more importantly, we know that when small business is strong, America is strong. (Applause.) And President Trump is going to fight for small business America, just as he's done from day one.
We want to create jobs and prosperity and growth in America like never before. And small business is going to be the lion's share of that. Just look at what the President has already done.
On day one, President Trump went straight to work rolling back reams of red tape. He’s instructed literally every agency in Washington, D.C. to find two regulations to get rid of before they issue any new federal red tape on job-creators in America. (Applause.)
He’s taken decisive action already to protect American jobs and American workers by ending illegal immigration once and for all. (Applause.)
He also took action recently when he authorized the Keystone and Dakota pipelines that will create thousands of jobs and protect America's energy future. (Applause.)
And businesses are already responding to President Trump’s “Buy American, Hire American” vision with optimism and investment. From coast to coast -- Governor Scott will back me up on this -- companies are announcing that they’re keeping jobs here, they're creating new jobs -- tens of thousands of them. Just last month, the American economy added 235,000 new jobs, and we are just getting started. (Applause.)
Under President Trump's leadership and working with great congressmen like your congressman, John Rutherford, we're going to cut taxes across the board for working families, small businesses, and family farms. We’re going to keep slashing through red tape, we're going to rein in unelected bureaucrats so they can’t cripple the economy from the comfort of their taxpayer-funded metal desks in Washington, D.C. (Applause.)
And because you hired a builder to be President of the United States, we're going to rebuild this country so that Florida and every other state has the resources to have the best roads, the best bridges, the best highways, the best airports, and the best future we could ever imagine, with the infrastructure that we need. (Applause.)
But making America great again doesn’t just mean our economy. President Trump has no higher priority, I can assure you, than the safety and security of the American people. Over the past year, the American people watched in horror as terror struck Orlando and Ft. Lauderdale. Our support and our prayers have been with you ever since. And so, for that matter, I can assure you, is our resolve.
Rest assured, President Trump will continue to take steps every single day to protect our nation, protect our way of life, and protect and prevent attacks by radical Islamic terrorism in this country again. (Applause.)
Your former sheriff knows in his heart what people also know: President Donald Trump is standing with the men and women who serve in law enforcement in this country as never before. (Applause.)
Some of you are sitting, a lot of you are standing, but would you all mind getting on your feet and thanking all the men and women in law enforcement who are here with us today? (Applause.) I promise you, under President Trump's leadership, we're going to make sure that the men and women who serve in law enforcement have the resources and the training and the tools that they need to protect our families and go home safe to theirs.
The President has also taken steps to secure our nation, to secure our borders -- which means building a wall, enforcing our laws, beginning with ensuring, as the President said before Congress, that gang members, drug dealers, and criminals that threaten our communities are off the streets of Florida and out of this country. (Applause.)
And while we talk about security, this last Thursday President Trump unveiled his budget. It's a budget that, at its very heart, will end the era of budget cuts for our armed forces. We will rebuild our military. We will restore the arsenal of democracy. (Applause.) We will give our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guard the resources that they need to accomplish their mission and come home safe. That I promise you. (Applause.)
And, lastly, by nominating Judge Neil Gorsuch, who will go before the Congress this coming week, President Trump has kept his word to appoint a justice to the Supreme Court of the United States who will keep faith with the Constitution and uphold the God-given liberties that have been enshrined there for now more than two centuries. (Applause.)
So we've been busy. We've been busy. My friends, President Trump is a man of his word, and he's a man of action. And I believe he will make America great again. And make no mistake, about it: The Obamacare nightmare is about to end. (Applause.)
It’s amazing -- really amazing to think about it. Virtually every promise they made about Obamacare, when it was passed into law, has been broken. We all remember what they were. Remember? They told us the cost of health insurance would go down. Not true. They told us if you liked your doctors, you could keep them. Not true. They told us if you liked your health plan, you could keep it. Not true.
Just the other day, I joined President Trump to listen to hardworking Americans who have suffered from these broken promises. They told us in visceral and in emotional terms the stories that I heard from business leaders today: skyrocketing premiums, unaffordable deductibles, fewer choices, higher taxes. They told us, just like these employers did today, about the hard choices that they've had to make, about how Obamacare is standing in the way of not only their companies' aspirations, but the hopes and dreams of the people that work there and desire to work there. It was a heartbreaking conversation, then and now. And they’re not alone.
Think about it: Just last year, premiums, following Obamacare, spiked by 25 percent on average across America. Millions have lost their plans. In one-third of the nation’s counties, Americans only have one insurance company to choose from -- which essentially means they have no choice at all. Given all the failings, it’s no wonder that 400,000 fewer people enrolled in Obamacare this year.
Now, your governor, I can tell you, has been remarkable on this. He mentioned just a few moments ago -- we actually met when, as a private citizen, Rick Scott was fighting against Obamacare before it ever became law. (Applause.) And, Rick, let me thank you for that, and thank you for your ongoing leadership.
As Governor Rick Scott said recently -- and he knew this from the fight we fought then and the fight you fought every day since -- that Obamacare was, in his words, “sold on a lie.” And then, in his typical plain-spoken way, Governor Scott said, it just plain “doesn’t work.” And he was right.
Florida is actually a textbook example of everything that's wrong with Obamacare. Here in the Sunshine State, Obamacare premiums rose by 19 percent last year -- with some increasing by nearly 40 percent. Over 400,000 Floridians were scheduled to lose their plans at the start of this year. And nearly three-quarters -- 75 percent -- of the state has no choice at all when it comes to health insurance.
The truth is, Florida can’t afford Obamacare anymore. And job-creators in Florida can't afford it either. (Applause.) I heard it. I heard it earlier today. The small businesses represented here, they told me that Obamacare hits them with mandates, with regulations, with higher taxes and higher costs.
Mac Paper is actually a great case in point. Since Obamacare went into effect, Mac was telling me that they've been forced to spend more than $300,000 not on jobs, not on investments that will create more jobs, but on just trying to comply with this failed law.
That’s just not right. That money would have been better invested in your workers, Mac. And I know that's where you would have liked to invest it -- in payroll and in benefits, in your future, instead of being wasted on the failed policies of Obamacare.
Men and women, this can’t continue. Every day that Obamacare survives is another day the American people and American businesses are struggling. Obamacare has failed and Obamacare must go. (Applause.)
Since the day Florida helped send President Trump to the White House, I can promise you he has been focused on repealing and replacing Obamacare with something that actually works.
We know that the core flaw of Obamacare was this notion that you could order every American to buy health insurance whether they wanted it or needed it or not. That was never the answer.
Just a few days ago in Nashville, President Trump actually called that Obamacare’s “fatal flaw.” The President couldn’t be more right. That’s why we’re going to end this flaw. We're going to replace it with real solutions built on freedom, personal responsibility, and state flexibility and reform. That's what works, and that’s what President Trump’s plan for healthcare reform will do for the American people. (Applause.)
We’re going to begin, though, by repealing Obamacare’s taxes. We’re going to end its mandates by eliminating the penalties. We’re going to give Americans more choices. We're going to expand health savings accounts for every American. We're going to give Americans a tax credit that’ll help them buy the coverage they need at a price they can afford. And we're also going to do it with what the President likes to call “big heart.” We’re going to make sure that Americans with preexisting conditions still have access to the coverage that they need. And to you fellow parents out there with kids under the age of 26 -- I have three -- (laughter) -- we’ll make sure you can keep your kids on your insurance until they’re 26 years of age. (Applause.)
Now, folks, what I just laid out is only a small glimpse of everything our plan will do. The bill moving through the Congress, the American Health Care Act, is an important step in the right direction. We're working around the clock with Congressman Rutherford and other members of the Republican majority in the House and the Senate; and with leaders here in Florida to make this bill even better.
President Trump laid out a few key elements just yesterday with members of Congress in the Oval Office, and we're going to continue to work with members of Congress to improve this bill. It’s what the legislative process is all about.
And we're not going to -- we're going to do a couple of different things with a few recent amendments that are worth mentioning and are owing in part to the engagement that we had with Congress.
First off, we're going to stop any more states from expanding Medicaid and adding a burden to future generations. We're going to give states the option of block grants of Medicaid to the states so states like Florida can innovate and design Medicaid around the unique needs of the people in this community.
And we’re going to allow states like Florida to include a work requirement for able-bodied adults ensuring that Medicaid’s benefits are available for those who need it the most. (Applause.)
These are all common-sense solutions added to this legislation in a vigorous debate on Capitol Hill, and under the President’s leadership, we’ll continue to listen intently for ways to make this even better.
Just yesterday, President Trump made it clear he supports the bill 100 percent, and we all do. Every day, more and more members of Congress are getting on board. And as we work to pass this first bill, rest assured our administration is also working with Dr. Tom Price over at Health and Human Services and with Seema Verma at the Center for Medicaid Services to give states like Florida the freedom and flexibility to help your most vulnerable in the ways that are going to be best for you.
Just this past week, they sent a letter to Governor Scott and other state leaders around the country saying that “a new era for the federal and state Medicaid partnership” has begun -- and so it is. (Applause.)
The fact is, and I say this as a governor of the state of Indiana, that the fact is Florida is a unique state with unique needs -- and this administration knows that state-based solutions, designed by your governor, your state legislature are the best way to give better coverage, and get better healthcare outcomes, particularly for the most vulnerable citizens across the state of Florida.
And under President Trump’s leadership lastly just know this, we're going to give the American people the freedom to buy health insurance across state lines -- the way you buy life insurance, the way you buy car insurance. (Applause.)
That's the combination. President Trump and I know that the way to lower costs is to increase choices to create a dynamic national marketplace, and that’s what our plan will do. Probably won’t be too long before you see Flo and some little lizard on television -- (laughter) -- selling health insurance. And that's the American way.
And let me say a couple of things to you before I slip off and get on that plane and head back south with your governor. I want to assure the people of Florida: We’re going to have an orderly transition to a better healthcare system in America that makes affordable, high-quality health insurance accessible for every American. (Applause.)
But be assured about this, be clear on this, though, folks, this is going to be a battle in Washington, D.C. All right? Obamacare’s defenders are working hard, so we have to work harder. And we’re counting on Florida. We need every Republican in Florida to support this bill and support the President’s plan to repeal and replace Obamacare.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: That's why we voted.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: And President Trump and I -- President Trump and I are confident -- we're confident that with your support, Florida will be there, and we will repeal and replace Obamacare once and for all. (Applause.)
It really is remarkable this time we find ourselves in, a time of renewed hope and boundless opportunity for the American people. I think we're at a pivotal moment in our nation’s history that started last November the 8th.
In this moment, though, I want to leave you with a challenge, we need every freedom-loving American who knew we could be stronger, who knew we could be better, who knew we could stand tall again to yourselves stand up and speak out. It’s time that we demanded government as good as our people. We need you to tell the world that we can do better, that we're renewing and restoring this country, that we're putting it back on a path to a brighter future. Tell your neighbors and your friends. Stop people outside the drug store. Just let them know how strongly you support the President’s vision for this country, particularly when it comes to healthcare.
One of my favorite verses in the Old Book is from the Book of Jeremiah. It’s hung over the mantle of our home since I first ran for Congress successfully in the year 2000, and now it hangs over the mantle in the Vice President’s Residence in Washington, D.C.
It simply reads: “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope, and a future.”
In November, I believe with all of my heart that the people of Florida and the people of this country voted to give America a President with the strength, the courage, and the vision, to make America safe again. You voted to give us a new leader who will make America prosperous again. And I know in my heart with your continued faith and support, together we will make America great again.
Thank you very much. Thank you for being here. God bless you and God bless America. (Applause.)
3:03 P.M. EDT