White House counselor Kellyanne Conway Monday defended comments she made on a weekend show about the future of Medicaid under the Senate's healthcare reform bill, denying claims that she lied when she said people currently receiving benefits would not lose their services.
"It's not a lie," Conway told Fox News' "Fox & Friends" program. "In fact, this is slowing the growth of Medicaid and allowing governors more flexibility in their states to be able to give the dollars because they are closest to the people in need. Also, Medicaid continues to be funded."
During an interview on Sunday with ABC's "This Week" anchor George Stephanopoulos, Conway commented that "if you're currently in Medicaid, if you became a Medicaid recipient through the Obamacare expansion, you're grandfathered in. We're talking about in the future."
On Monday, Conway explained the comments, telling Fox News that Medicaid, "over time, would be unsustainable and unaffordable because Obamacare failed to bring the costs down . . . the states are having a very difficult time meeting the bills."
Medicaid is intended for "the poor, the needy, and the sick," she continued, but under Obamacare, the program expanded to include able-bodied Americans who were not poor, sick, or needy.
"We are not talking about the elderly, the children, the pregnant women, the disabled," said Conway. "If you are able-bodied and you would like to go and find employment and employer-sponsored benefits then you should be able to do that.
"Maybe you belong, as Secretary [Tom] Price has made clear maybe you belong in other places."
Conway told the program she would not allow "people and detractors and Trump haters" to call her a liar because they don't want to "do the homework and look at what is actually happening to Medicaid."
To keep Medicaid sustainable, she insisted, "this has to happen."
Last year, she continued, 20 million people opted out of Obamacare, and 6.5 million preferred to pay $3 billion in taxes to the IRS.
"You know what they could have done with that money?" Conway said. "Bought healthcare through the market. We have 83 insurers who have left the exchanges just last year with two dozen more promising to do so in 2018.
"It's collapsing. It has benefited some Americans. Millions of others who were left out of the process."
She also spoke out about comments made by Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who has blamed President Donald Trump of undermining health insurance and Obamacare.
"What is Sen. Durbin doing?" she said. "What are any of the Democrats doing to improve healthcare in our country? How can he deny that millions of Americans have opted out of Obamacare, have preferred to fork over their hard earned money in taxes and penalties rather than be part of this system?"
Also on Monday, Conway refused speculation on reports that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy plans to announce his retirement later in the day.
"He has served with 30 years with distinction on the court," said Conway. "That is his decision. I know the president when he appointed Neil Gorsuch made clear at any time when he gets a federal appointment, whether it's at the Supreme Court level or the district court, the circuit courts, that he will appoint people, nominate people who have fidelity to the constitution."
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