Pence uses fake Jefferson quote to dodge critical question about Trumpcare

Unable to defend Graham-Cassidy, Pence made stuff up.

CREDIT: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
CREDIT: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

During a Fox & Friends interview on Thursday morning, Vice President Mike Pence was asked to respond to concerns people rightfully have that the latest Trumpcare bill will make it tougher for people with preexisting conditions to obtain and keep health insurance.

“Folks like Jimmy Kimmel, they’re worried about the preexisting condition thing, ’cause this will be up to the governors to decide how the money is dispersed, who gets coverage,” host Ainsley Earhardt said. “Can you guarantee that these governors will make sure that preexisting conditions are covered?”

Pence dodged the question with a fake Thomas Jefferson quote.

“Thomas Jefferson said, ‘Government that governs least, governs best,'” Pence said, using a quote that the Thomas Jefferson Foundation says Jefferson never uttered. “I mean the question that people ought to ask is, who do you think will be more responsible to the health care needs in your community? Your governor, your state legislature, or a congressman and a president in a far-off nation’s capital. I mean, this is the concept of federalism upon which our constitution was framed.”

The vice president went on lie about how the so-called Graham-Cassidy bill “protects” people with preexisting conditions.


“This legislation — Graham-Cassidy — as its authors have said, contains all the same protections for preexisting conditions as the president indicated,” Pence said. “At the end of the day, we have to recognize that Obamacare has failed, [as] much as its defenders want to deny the facts.”

Trump made that same claim on Twitter on Wednesday evening.

Both Pence and Trump are lying. As ThinkProgress previously detailed, Graham-Cassidy allows states to allow to discriminate against people with preexisting conditions, charging them more and possibly pricing them out of the market. On Wednesday, ThinkProgress spoke Laura Packard, a self-employed woman with stage 4 cancer who faces a possible $140,000 surcharge on her annual health premium if Graham-Cassidy becomes law.

“I cannot afford [a $140,000 premium] and I suspect most people cannot,” Packard said.

While arguing on behalf of his bill, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) is quick to point a provision requiring any state that applies for a waiver to describe “how the state intends to maintain adequate and affordable health insurance coverage for individuals with preexisting conditions.” That’s the provision Pence referred to on Fox & Friends.


But as Chris Sloan, senior manager at the health research firm Avalere, told Vox, states “could stretch the definition pretty broadly of what counts.”

“Maybe you fund a high-risk pool that only allows in some number of people, and that counts,” he said. “It’s a pretty wide space.”

An analysis by Andy Slavitt, who ran the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services under President Obama, found that 32 million people could lose health coverage by the end of this decade if Cassidy’s bill becomes law.

During another part of the Fox & Friends interview, Pence inaccurately claimed that “thousands” of counties have no choice of health care providers under Obamacare. In fact, according to the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, as of September 15, 2017, there were zero counties in the United States with no insurer on the marketplace.