The biggest political setback for the Donald Trump administration, thus far: the failure to get the American Health Care Act even to the House floor.
The administration’s attempts to message its health care reform legislation were short-lived.
However, one of the key theaters in that effort was Jacksonville, where VP Mike Pence, Gov. Rick Scott, and Mayor Lenny Curry messaged on the perceived failings of Obamacare.
Scott and Curry spent political capital on the effort: Scott especially, as he helped the Trump administration figure out its approach to health care reform, though Curry, as a local mayor, irked half the city by messaging on this national issue.
Appearing together in front of live microphones for the first time since that effort, we asked the governor and the mayor both about their feelings on the aborted health care legislation.
Our first question: did the Trump administration waste their time?
Scott sighed before responding, but hewed to familiar talking points.
“I’m going to continue to fight to make sure people have access to health care. Here’s what we know: we know that when health care costs go up, it impacts access. Either you can’t pay for it, your employer can’t pay for it, or the government can’t pay for it.”
“President Trump inherited an absolute mess. Obamacare’s spiraling out of control, and President Obama left in the nick of time,” Scott said. “We’ve got to find a way to drive down costs. I’m going to keep working … with the President, the Vice-President, the Congress, a friend of mine — HHS Secretary Tom Price — to come up with a plan that’s good for everybody.”
“We want everybody in the state to have access to good health care,” Scott emphasized.
Curry, meanwhile, “wanted to echo what the governor said. The message was ‘repeal Obamacare.’ The message remains to those Republicans in Washington: ‘repeal Obamacare’.”
Of course, there are existential questions about what that repeal may look like, as President Trump appears to have pivoted.
Meeting with a bipartisan group of Senators in Washington, Trump vowed to to “make a deal on health care … I have no doubt that that’s going to happen very quickly.”
We asked Scott if Trump was in danger of selling out the GOP base on this issue.
“Here’s what’s important to me,” the governor said. “We’ve got to come up with a way for people to have access to health care. If you can’t afford it, you don’t have access. My goal is come up with something that gives people good access to health care.”
“I’ve spent a good amount of time with President Trump. I know he listens. And my hope is that we can come up with something that all Americans can embrace.