Pence Has Worked to Destroy Health Care for Millions

In the summer of 2012, after the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act and ensured coverage for millions of Americans, Mike Pence stood in front of his Republican Congressional colleagues and compared the decision to 9/11. There may be no better illustration of Pence’s twisted view of health care, a topic of increasing importance as he joins President Trump and Congressional Republicans in a relentless pursuit to destroy access to affordable care in the U.S.

It’s a mission that would already be complete if Pence had his way. Earlier this summer, as the Senate went late into the night to vote on its repeal of the Affordable Care Act, Pence travelled to the Capitol intent on casting the deciding vote to end the landmark legislation. Sen. John McCain’s surprise dissension ended those plans, but Pence has declared his intention to continue the fight to destroy the ACA and with it, the lives of many sick Americans.

Pence is willing to destroy health care options for the elderly to benefit private corporations

This is not a new obsession for Pence, whose extreme record on health care has been on display since the day he got to Congress. For years, he was one of Washington’s most vocal advocates of privatization. He supported House Speaker Paul Ryan’s plan to turn Medicare into a voucher program, which would have jeopardized health care coverage for millions of elderly Americans, and advocated taking money from the Medicare prescription drug benefit to pay for Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. Pence has also been credited for turning the effort to defund Planned Parenthood from a fringe GOP issue into a primary plank of the party. From 2008 to 2011 he introduced bills to defund the reproductive health organization and though they failed every time, he remained committed to the effort.

Pence believes women are little more walking baby incubators and has pushed anti-abortion bills that are cruel and dangerous to women

After he was elected governor of Indiana, Pence continued his assault on women. He signed at least eight abortion bills in his four years in office, including one that would have required cremation or burial for all fetal tissue, a measure that was intended to make abortions more expensive and thus, less accessible. That bill, which also banned women from having abortions because of a fetus’ disability, was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge.

Pence has made it harder for the poor and the sick to qualify for Medicaid

Pence also enacted policies that made life harder on those in poverty and struggling with addiction. In 2016, he surprised some by embracing Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, but ensured that families below the poverty line had to jump through endless hoops to qualify. Meanwhile, he cut public health spending in the state to remarkably low levels, despite Indiana’s high smoking, obesity and infant mortality rates.

Pence objected to needle exchanges, preferring that people with addiction problems in Indiana be punished and potentially die of their sickness

One of the biggest failures of Pence’s time in Indiana came in the spring of 2015, as an HIV outbreak was spreading through the state. With local officials desperate for needle exchanges to slow the outbreak, Pence held out, citing moral objections. As more Hoosiers became sick, Pence prayed. Then he relented, but ensured that exchanges were difficult to set up by denying them state funding and implementing an onerous application process.

It’s often said that the vice presidency is a ceremonial position without any real power, but Pence showed the folly in that thinking when he nearly cast the tie-breaking vote to end Obamacare. It’s clear that if he ever does get the opportunity, he’ll destroy health care as we know it.