Politics

Beware heathcare ‘spin,’ Kellyanne Conway says in Miami, doing her own spinning

Kellyanne Conway attends GOP fundraiser in Miami

Kellyanne Conway, Counselor to President Trump, says she has never "uttered the words fake news," and gives her thoughts on the media at the 69th Annual Lincoln Day Dinner in Miami, Florida, June 7, 2017.
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Kellyanne Conway, Counselor to President Trump, says she has never "uttered the words fake news," and gives her thoughts on the media at the 69th Annual Lincoln Day Dinner in Miami, Florida, June 7, 2017.

On the same day that Senate Republicans were forced to delay a vote on their healthcare legislation because not enough of them wanted to vote for it, White House senior counselor Kellyanne Conway defended the bill in Miami.

“I know that people like to spin tales,” she said at the Miami-Dade County Republican Party’s annual Lincoln Day fundraising dinner. “Do the homework. Read all of the information.”

She, however, was not always providing it.

Conway said the Senate bill, called the “Better Care Reconciliation Act,” would offer “an increase in Medicaid spending every year, with a slowing of the growth of the expansion” promoted by former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

In its report released Monday, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office concluded that the lower rate of spending on Medicaid would result in a $772 billion reduction by 2026, about a 26 percent cut over a decade that would leave thousands of people without health insurance. Medicaid, which is run by states but funded by states and the federal government, provides care to the disabled and the needy.

In all, the CBO projected some 22 million people with individual, employer or government insurance would lose coverage by 2026.

More than tout the Senate bill, Conway criticized the existing ACA, saying the “19th and 20th Obamacare exchanges failed — there’s only four left.” That appeared to be a reference to the 19th healthcare cooperative in the country folding, leaving four nationwide. But co-ops are not exchanges; exchanges are the ACA-created insurance marketplaces.

Another Conway claim worked against her argument: She said 21 of Florida’s 67 counties have a single insurer in the federal Obamacare exchange, but the number is actually more than double that at 47 counties.

She was correct in saying 83 insurers that offered ACA plans in 2016 said they would not in 2017.

She also correctly cited a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report when she said, “Premiums in Florida have increased by 84 percent in Florida.” But that May report was seen by critics as a political document to bolster House Republicans ahead of their own contentious healthcare vote. The premium-hike calculation did not include state exchanges. Most enrollees also qualified for tax subsidies to pay for insurance.

Elsewhere in her remarks, Conway noted Trump’s commitment to Cuban exiles — who make up the bulk of the local party — and recounted how Trump won last year.

“I come to say thank you,” she said. “When we saw those 29 electoral votes on the board from Florida, we knew what was going to happen that night.”

Conway did not deliver a speech but fielded friendly questions from state Rep. Carlos Trujillo, an early Trump supporter being considered for an ambassadorship. She was introduced by former U.S. Rep. David Rivera, who boasted about their 30-year friendship.

Conway, a cable-news fixture, proved to be a big draw: Some 700 people attended the dinner, bringing in more than $200,000 and forcing the party to move to a bigger room at the DoubleTree by Hilton Miami Airport and Convention Center, Miami-Dade GOP Chairman Nelson Diaz said.

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