Pence sells GOP healthcare bill to Florida conservatives

By Brooks Hays  |  Updated March 20, 2017 at 6:18 AM
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March 19 (UPI) -- Vice President Mike Pence visited Florida to shore up support for the Republican healthcare bill among his party's base.

In a speech to small business owners and Republican lawmakers Saturday at a paper plant in Jacksonville, Pence emphasized the flexibility the bill offers state governments.

The GOP bill will allow states to accept block grant Medicaid fundings instead of fixed funding, "so states like Florida can innovate and design Medicaid around the unique needs of the people in this community," Pence said.

Pence also said Florida could -- under the proposed bill -- enact a work requirement for able-bodied recipients of Medicaid.

"These are all commonsense 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," Pence told the audience.

Pence also lobbied for the bill during a speech at a gathering hosted by the Club for Growth in West Palm Beach. The conservative political group is one of several organizations that have criticized the bill for being too similar to Obamacare and not doing enough to revoke the Affordable Care Act's measures.

"Make no mistake about it, our plan is pro-growth and pro-freedom," Pence promised members of the group.

Since the GOP plan -- the American Health Care Act -- was first unveiled, Republican leaders like Pence and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., have been working to defend the bill against attacks from across the political spectrum.

The legislation is currently being reworked as it passes through committees in the House of Representatives. Republicans need 216 votes to pass the bill and send it to the Senate.

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