LOUISVILLE — For 33-year-old Nathan Lewis, a short trip down I-65 from Campbellsburg, Indiana to Louisville was a breeze if it meant being just feet away from President Donald Trump.
Lewis and several of his Hoosier relatives made the short trek to the Kentucky Exposition Center Monday to hear Trump talk about the proposed Republican health care plan that could replace former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
“I want to hear more about the health care plan that he’s talking about,” Lewis said. “I love the fact that he doesn’t want to force anybody into having health care. It can be a choice, not a forced thing. That’s encouraging to me.”
Lewis was one of more than 100 Hoosiers to pack the arena Monday evening.
With a similar fondness for Trump, Mike Pittman, 66, traveled from Madison, Indiana with his wife to see the president.
Pittman, a retired health care worker, said that while he is currently on Medicare, he thinks the plan will have the largest impact on his children and grandchildren, as well as the state’s insurance company economy.
“Healthcare needs reform — no question about it,” Pittman said. “There are a lot of Americans uncovered, but the Obama plan really put a pinch on private insurance.”
Titled the American Health Care Act, the proposal by House Republicans would essentially remove the requirement to purchase coverage. The plan also moves from income-based tax credits to an age-based system. Additionally, it phases out the expansion of the Medicaid.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that over a decade the proposal would cut the federal deficit by $337 billion but also leave 24 million Americans without insurance.
Not everyone at the rally was supportive of the Republican health care plan.
Martha Stott, of Evansville, said Congress should take all the time it needs to create a plan all Americans can agree on.
“I’m kind of concerned about it,” Stott said. “I’m surprised that having seven years to work on this, they haven’t come up with a good plan they can all agree on.”
Meanwhile, Indiana House Minority Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, addressed the Republican plan Thursday. In a letter to the state’s 11 Congressional leaders, Indiana Democratic Representatives warned lawmakers of the potential effects the “fast-tracked bill” may have on Hoosier health care.
More than 400,000 Hoosiers rely on the state’s Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0 for their Medicaid health coverage, but some fear the Republican plan may endanger HIP 2.0.
“We have met few Hoosiers who want to lose their health care coverage, see Medicare slashed, endure health care job losses or see family members suffer needlessly,” Pelath wrote in the letter.
Gov. Eric Holcomb also expressed concern for the future of HIP 2.0 in a February opinion column published in Washington-based newspaper, The Hill.
“Our Healthy Indiana Plan is now the go-to model of consumer-driven healthcare for states in the Midwest and beyond,” Holcomb said in the column. “Indiana’s HIP 2.0 program works because it is built by Hoosiers for Hoosiers — a true skin-in-the-game approach that reflects the core values of personal responsibility and fiscal discipline intrinsic to our communities.”
Holcomb said he looked forward to working with the current administration to give states power to solve their own problems “quickly and more effectively.”
Kentucky Republican Gov. Matt Bevin agreed Monday night, calling Indiana an example to surrounding states.
The U.S. House Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce and Budget Committees have voted in favor of the American Health Care Act. The plan will face the full House Thursday for a final round of debate and voting.
“Thursday is our chance to end Obamacare and the Obamacare catastrophe,” Trump said during the rally Monday night.
As for Nathan Lewis, he said he is hopeful for the future of health in America, and said Trump’s words Monday aligned with everything the country needs.
“He’s come to drain the swamp,” Lewis said. “He is doing the job for the American people.”
Shelby Mullis is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, powered by Franklin College journalism students.