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Trump to talk health care at rally

By Justin Sayers The Courier-Journal

President Donald Trump plans to hold a political rally Monday at Freedom Hall, nine days after Vice President Mike Pence visited Louisville to pitch the administration's plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Kentucky has emerged as a battleground state in the effort to repeal the federal health care law, also known as Obamacare. Trump has urged Congress to pass a bill aimed at repealing the federal health care law and replacing it with a Repub­lican-backed plan.

The Republican plan already is controversial within the GOP, with some arguing it doesn't go far enough to fully repeal the law. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is among those. He denounced the bill last week and reintroduced legislation from the last Congress to fully repeal the law.

Doors for the event are scheduled to open at 4:30 p.m., three hours before the rally begins, according to Trump's campaign website. Tickets are available -- two per mobile phone number -- on donaldjtrump. com.

The announcement of Trump's visit comes just four days after a Louisville Regional Airport Authority spokeswoman said officials were told the president was preparing a trip to Louisville last weekend. A White House source said later that the president was not planning a trip to Kentucky.

The following day, Pence's office announced that he would visit. On Saturday, Pence spoke to more than 100 people at an invitation-only event in Jeffersontown to urge the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, even as hundreds of people demonstrated outside in support of the federal law.

"Obamacare has failed the people of Kentucky, Obamacare has failed the people of America and Obamacare must go!" the former Indiana governor said to an enthusiastic audience at a warehouse of the Harshaw Trane heating and cooling business.

Many health advocates hail Kentucky as a national success story for Obamacare as implemented by former Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear, though critics, including Kentucky Republicans Gov. Matt Bevin and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, denounce it as a failure.

More than 500,000 Kentuckians gained health coverage in Kentucky after it was implemented by Beshear, who delivered the Democratic response to Trump's first address to Congress this month. After the health plan's implementation, Kentucky dropped from about 20 percent of its 4.3 million residents having no health coverage to about 7 percent.

And even as Bevin criticizes the law, his administration on March 7 announced that 81,185 Kentuckians bought commercial health insurance plans for 2017, about the same as the 82,681 Kentuckians who bought plans last year under the law, which offers tax subsidies to lower-income buyers. The Republican plan eliminates the tax subsidies for people who buy commercial health plans and replaces them with less-generous tax credits.

Meanwhile, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, a Democrat, said about 100,000 people in Louisville gained health coverage under the law, urging "Congress to slow down and get health care right."

The repeal-and-replace measure would phase out Obamacare's expansion of Medicaid and would also stop the open-ended match that states receive for all other Medicaid beneficiaries, which is about 70 percent in Kentucky. Instead, states would be given a set amount of money based on the number of enrollees they had in 2016 in various categories, including children, disabled adults and the elderly.

The bill also changes the private insurance subsidies available under the ACA for those who aren't covered through an employer and don't qualify for a government program like Medicare and Medicaid.

The change could help people who are younger, higher-income or live in areas where premiums are lower, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Those who are older, lower-income or live in high-premium areas such as Alaska and Arizona benefit more from the current subsidies.

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