Interview of Vice President Pence by Mike Porcaro, KENI-Anchorage
5:55 P.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Hi this is Mike Pence.
Q Mr. Vice President, Mike Porcaro. How are you, sir?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Hey, Mike, great to meet you over the phone. Appreciate it.
Q Same here. Before we get into the interview, I'm giving you an official invite: Come on up fishing, anytime.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Oh, I'd love it. I'd love it. What do you like to catch up there?
Q Well, any kind of salmon. I mean, we can catch halibut, but silver salmon are fun to catch.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Oh man.
Q They fight, they dance. Mr. Vice President, all I can tell you is you'll just -- it'll blow your mind.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: (Laughter.) I have no doubt. I love Alaska.
Q Well, come on back up, sir. You're welcome up here anytime.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I will.
Q All right, essentially we're looking at a healthcare repeal of the Affordable Care Act. And there's a vehicle that is being used called the Graham-Cassidy Act. And that is being -- well, it's moving very quickly through the Congress. Now, there's a date certain on this one. Tell me why it has to be done so quickly.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, Mike, the American people know, the people of Alaska know that Obamacare has failed. It's failed the people of this state and people all across the country.
in Alaska have increased more than 200 percent since Obamacare took effect. I mean, more than 20,000 Alaskans chose to pay the tax penalty instead of actually enrolling in the health insurance exchange in Alaska because the coverage was so poor.
Literally, Obamacare has been collapsing all over America, and the American people know we can do better. President Trump and I are absolutely committed to keep our promise to the American people to repeal and replace Obamacare. And the Graham-Cassidy bill that's making its way through the United States Senate as we speak, we believe, is our best opportunity to repeal the most onerous elements of Obamacare and empower states like Alaska to craft healthcare solutions that will be better suited to the people of your state.
And so we're strongly supporting the bill. We're working closely with both of your senators. They're both friends of mine. Senator Dan Sullivan and Senator Lisa Murkowski do a great job for your state. But we're literally reaching out to every member of the United States Senate who knows that we can do better than the failed policies of Obamacare, and urging them to support Graham-Cassidy.
We think it's an idea whose time has come, and the core of it very straight forward, Mike. It repeals the individual mandate and the business mandate that's at the center of Obamacare. I mean, right now, ever since Obamacare, every American ordered to buy health insurance or pay a penalty to the federal government -- that's gone.
And then the balance of it, block-grants all the resources of Obamacare back to the states so that people in Juno can craft solutions for your state to meet the unique challenges that Alaskans face with regard to access to healthcare and affordability.
And that's built on the principle of federalism that I think is one of the most important elements of the American experiment, enshrined in the Constitution.
Q Well, you'll get no argument from me on that at all. I think we know best what our healthcare needs are and how to solve our problems.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: You bet.
Q And no offense to Washington, but I really would much rather trust somebody that I can talk to and get ahold of than somebody 3,000 or 4,000 miles away.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Mike, that's the whole point. And remember before I became Vice President, I was a governor of the great state of Indian. And I can tell you, when I was governor of Indiana, we actually got from the last administration the most expansive waiver in Medicaid in the history of that program, in my state, with just a little bit of flexibility.
Now people in our most vulnerable population can have health insurance where they have a health savings account, they choose their own doctor, they get credits for engaging in wellness. We just got a portion of the flexibility that Graham-Cassidy would give Indiana, would give Alaska, and give every state in the Union.
I mean, as you said better than I did, I mean, the people of Alaska know what's best at what solutions will work in Alaska just every bit as much as the people of Indiana know what will work in the corn and soybean fields of Indiana. And the principle behind Graham-Cassidy is you get rid of the mandates, you get rid of some of the taxes, and then you block-grant these resources back to the states. And we just -- we've got the vote coming up next week.
The reason why it's on a short timeframe, Mike, to answer your first question very simply, is that we're using a budget resolution to pass it. And that lapses at the end of this month. It only requires a budget resolution, only requires 51 votes. And the truth is, no Democrat in the Senate has expressed any willingness to consider repealing Obamacare, so we've got to do this with Republicans. So we have until the end of this month to pass Graham-Cassidy and give the people of Alaska and all of America a fresh start on healthcare.
Q Well, let's hope you don’t have to go up and vote. (Laughter.) Let's hope there's enough votes to pass this thing.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, that's right. We're prepared to do it. The Vice President has the privilege of casting a tie-breaking vote, and I can tell you I would welcome the opportunity to cast my vote in support of Graham-Cassidy. But you're right, we hope every single Republican in the United States Senate supports this bill.
Q So, Mr. Vice President, how can we help you? This is a long time coming. This thing has been destroying this country for a long time. How do we help? How do we get this thing passed?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, it's in the hands of the members of the United States Senate. And our message all across the country is, if people agree with President Trump that Obamacare has failed, if people see that Obamacare premiums have doubled over the past four years, they're rising by double digits again next year, if they see premiums skyrockets, choices plummeting, and know we can do better, now is the time to let our elected representatives hear from you. I mean, I have to tell you, I hold in the highest regard your two senators. They're not only friends but they're outstanding legislators and they're both champions for Alaska.
But if any of your listeners agree with President Trump and me and millions of Americans that we need to repeal and replace Obamacare, now is the time to reach out to Senator Dan Sullivan and Senator Lisa Murkowski and let them know that you'd be grateful if they'd stand with President Trump and they'd vote in favor of Graham-Cassidy when it comes to the Senate floor next week.
Q All right, Mr. Vice President, I know your schedule is tight. I really appreciate your taking time, and hopefully in the future we'll get to meet face to face, and maybe we'll have an opportunity to talk again soon. I'd like that.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Mike, I'd love to come in. It's great to be on the Mike Porcaro Show. I thank you for having me on KENI. And I'll tell you what -- some of the greatest memories my family ever made were in Alaska, and I would love to come back soon and see if I can figure out that fishing with you.
Q Okay. (Laughter.) You're on. Have a great day, Mr. Vice President.
END 6:02 P.M. EDT