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VP Pence Touts Ending Obamacare in First Speech to a Latino Group

VP Mike Pence's speech to the Latino Coalition didn't touch on the border wall, immigration enforcement or the high rate of uninsured among Latinos.
Image: Sean Spicer, Mike Pence, Hector Barreto
Vice President Mike Pence is welcomed by Hector Barreto, chairman of the Latino Coalition, to the coalition's summit in Washington, Thursday, March 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

Vice President Mike Pence promised a group of Latino business people the GOP replacement for health care would unburden small businesses and that in the immigration debate, the administration would “show heart every step of the way”

Pence spoke Thursday to the Latino Coalition, a business group that leans Republican politically. It was his first speech since the election to a major gathering of a Latino group.

“The Obamacare nightmare is about to come to an end,” Pence said in the speech that largely hit on campaign election themes.

“The way you lower cost is not by growing government, it’s by increasing competition,” Pence said of the GOP effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, and write a replacement.

Two House committees after each engaging in hours of debate passed the American Health Care Act, which is meant to replace Obamacare.

Some four million Latinos gained health care coverage under Obamacare and more were able to get health care with the expansion of Medicaid made possible by the law. Although Latinos were hesitant to enroll in its health exchanges at first, Obamacare now enjoys strong support in the community.

Vice President Mike Pence speaks to the Latino Coalition summit in Washington, Thursday, March 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

Pence also touched on immigration in his speech, discussing his immigrant roots and saying the administration would focus on the rule of law regarding immigration. That, he said, would benefit Americans, “including Hispanic Americans,” he said.

“As the debate goes forward, we will show great heart every step of the way,” Pence also said.

But Pence skirted some of the issues that have been wedges between the administration and the Latino community, such as building a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border and Trump’s immigration enforcement orders.

But businessman Danny Vargas, founder and president of VARCom Solutions, gave Pence good marks for his speech. Vargas, who was in the audience, said Pence “touched on a lot of things the business owners were hoping to hear.”

Jacqueline Krick, president and CEO of ECU Communications, said she found the speech “invigorationg” and wasn’t bothered by the controversies weren't addressed.

“This isn’t the platform for that,” she said. “He’s very much on track with what the administration is trying to accomplish.”

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