The Trump administration has refused to reopen Obamacare enrollment during the coronavirus pandemic.
Vice President Mike Pence was asked on Wednesday where uninsured middle-class Americans should turn for coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic. His response was to repeatedly dodge the question, praise Donald Trump, and laud the insurance industry.
"Without opening the health care exchanges," he was asked at a press conference, "where can people go now to get health insurance if they get sick, before they get sick?"
Pence first answered that "underprivileged" Americans are covered by Medicaid and that Trump has made it easier for those beneficiaries to get coronavirus-related care.
Pressed as to how that helps middle-class Americans who are not covered by Medicaid or other insurance, Pence dodged.
"I think what we're seeing health insurance companies do today," he answered, "is really inspiring." He bragged that Trump has "engaged American businesses to step up and do their part."
Congressional Democrats and health insurers have urged the Trump administration to temporarily reopen Obamacare enrollment so uninsured Americans can obtain coverage. A White House official told Politico on Tuesday that the administration had decided not to do so, blocking people without insurance from obtaining it.
Even as the Trump administration is relying on Medicaid to cover poorer Americans, it is backing a lawsuit that could destroy Obamacare. Doing so would strip coverage from millions who gained it through the law's Medicaid expansion — about 30 million people overall.
Pence also lauded Trump Tuesday for backing waivers to allow states to "expand coverage for coronavirus testing and treatment" under Medicaid and Medicare. But he did not mention that 14 GOP-controlled states have still refused to accept Medicaid expansion under Obamacare, leaving more than 2 million poorer Americans without coverage.
At the end of Pence's lengthy nonanswer, Donald Trump praised him for his total dodge of the question.
"I think that's one of the greatest answers I've ever heard. Because Mike was able to speak for five minutes and not even touch your question. I said that's what you call a great professional."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.