Pence dismisses town hall criticism during Wisconsin stop

Pence dismisses town hall criticism during Wisconsin stop

By Scott Bauer, Associated Press | Posted - Mar. 3, 2017 at 1:55 p.m.

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JANESVILLE, Wis. (AP) — Vice President Mike Pence joined House Speaker Paul Ryan on Friday in his Wisconsin hometown, promising during an invite-only speech that a replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act would come within days while dismissing recent protests at Republican town halls by people opposed to repealing it.

"Despite the best efforts of some activists at some town halls around the country, the American people know Obamacare has failed and Obamacare must go," Pence told about 350 employees of Blain Supply at the company headquarters in Janesville.

About 50 protesters jeered Pence and Ryan from across the street, waving a large flag that said "RESIST," echoing similar protests they each faced in separate stops Thursday in Ohio and Rhode Island.

Ryan is working with House Republicans and the Trump administration on a repeal and replacement plan for the health care law. Pence said Trump and Ryan have a close partnership that will benefit Americans "for generations to come."

Pence, Ryan, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican., also held an invite-only listening session with eight invited farmers and local business owners before taking a tour of the distribution center. Reporters were ushered out of the listening session after opening comments.

The Wisconsin stop was the second in as many days where Pence visited a private business and touted the Trump administration's plans for replacing the federal law. He visited a picture frame manufacturer in suburban Cincinnati on Thursday.

Ryan and House Republicans have been struggling to solidify support for their plans to reshape the nation's health care law, while being secretive about the details of what they're working on. Price, in his comments, said the Senate, House and administration was working together on the repeal and replacement plan.

"Our goal is to make sure no one falls through the cracks in this transition," he said.

Pence said he was consulting with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, also the chairman of the Republican Governors Association, on the health care law replacement. Pence said he was working with Walker to ensure that the plan gives states flexibility so it "will work for the people of their individual states."

Walker met with Trump and Pence earlier in the week and with high profile Republicans on Thursday in Washington, urging them to follow his state's lead when overhauling the federal health care law. Walker rejected the Medicaid expansion under the federal law but made other changes to extend insurance to others so everyone below the poverty level is covered.

Because of his Washington meeting, Walker was unable to attend the Pence visit in his state Friday.


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