July 14 (UPI) -- Vice President Mike Pence, in a speech to the National Governors Association, implored the governors in attendance to support reforms to the nation's healthcare system.
Pence told governors the Republican effort in Congress to overhaul the Affordable Care Act would "rescue the American people from the collapsing promises of Obamacare."
Resistance to the effort has been particularly strong among Republican governors in states that expanded Medicaid under the ACA. Governors have pressed lawmakers from those states to preserve the federal money that has enabled states to offer millions of low-income or disabled residents healthcare plans for which they did not qualify previously.
If the federal government cuts off those funds, as the Republican legislation would do in its current form, states that accepted the money would be forced to pick up the tab on their own or revoke individuals' coverage.
In his speech, Pence focused on the problems facing the Affordable Care Act, noting insurers in many states have backed out of the ACA's government-run insurance exchanges or sharply increased premiums because the marketplace has become more expensive and government subsidies meant to keep insurance affordable have not kept pace.
"Whatever your politics or your party, you know we're talking about real people, a real crisis," Pence said.
The bill's opponents weren't buying it.
"It's on everyone's mind. It's in every private conversation. There's a high degree of anxiety," said Rhode Island Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo, whose state hosted the annual summer meeting of the nation's governors. "They see it as an unfair shift of financial burden from the federal government to the states."
One key target in the audience for Pence's speech was Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, a moderate Republican who is widely popular in his state who has been a prominent critic of the GOP healthcare bill. Sandoval has lobbied his state's Republican Senator, Dean Heller, to vote "no."
"Senator Heller and I are in constant conversation, and obviously he's going to vote and make up his own mind," Sandoval told NBC News. "But I've told him all along that I'm very worried."