BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - WAFB Anchor Greg Meriwether posed a question about healthcare during Thursday's White House press briefing. He asked about efforts to repeal much of President Barack Obama's healthcare law, often called Obamacare, and how that might affect Louisianians.
Meriwether told White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders that Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has said the changes being considered could mean hundreds of thousands of people in Louisiana would lose their healthcare coverage. "Is there an acceptable number you're talking about behind scenes for those who will lose coverage," Meriwether asked.
"Frankly, Louisiana has been one of the hardest hit states in the country by Obamacare," Sanders said. "Their insurance premiums have gone up over 125 percent. The goal here is to give people in the country choices. No one who currently has Medicaid will have their benefits cut. We're looking across the board at the healthcare plans that will lower taxes, reduce premiums, and offer more choices for people in Louisiana and across the country."
Under the Trump administration, reporters in local television markets are often given an opportunity to ask questions during the daily press briefing along with the traditional White House press corps. The local reporter takes what is referred to as the "Skype seat," since they use the Skype program to gain access. The Skype reporters are shown on TV monitors in the front of the room. Meriwether asked his question from inside the WAFB-TV studio in Baton Rouge.
Senate Republicans are trying to salvage their bill repealing much of Obama's healthcare law. As of Thursday afternoon, they were still considering keeping the biggest tax increase he enacted to pay for his statute's expansion.
The GOP bill would repeal most of the tax boosts in Obama's law.
Leaders are considering retaining Obama's 3.8 percent tax increase on investments by higher earners. That tax boost is expected to raise $172 billion over ten years. Some Republicans want to use the money instead to make their federal healthcare subsidies more generous.
They're also considering a proposal from conservatives to let insurers offer policies with whatever premiums and benefits they'd like, as long as they also offer a plan providing all the coverage Obama's law requires.
It's unclear whether either proposal will survive.