ORLANDO — Republican governors on Tuesday were peppered with questions about what President-elect Trump's plan to repeal Obamacare means for their constituents who access the troubled healthcare program.
The interrogation was conducted by reporters during a news conference held by four high-profile GOP governors to celebrate Trump's victory and the opportunities it affords Republicans at all levels over the next two years, at least.
Republicans have long opposed the Affordable Care Act, and there is evidence that rising premiums and high deductibles boosted Trump and down ticket GOP candidates in last week's election. Trump and the party are united in support for repealing and replacing Obamacare.
After six years, Republicans finally have the votes to push repeal and replace through Congress, plus a president who is committed to signing the bill, whatever form it takes next year.
The governors, in Orlando for a Republican Governors Association conference, came under questioning for how the transition is supposed to unfold and what will happen to Americans who purchase health insurance offered on the Obamacare exchanges.
It was a preview of what is likely to be a pitched political battle.
That's because now, after six years, they have the votes to push repeal and replace through Congress and a president willing to sign it. Gov. Susana Martinez, half whose constituents in New Mexico rely on Obamacare, got the brunt of the reporters' questions.
But she wasn't the only one. After Florida Gov. Rick Scott jumped to Martinez' defense by calling Obamacare a "disaster" and a "complete lie," a reporter cut him off to ask what happens to Americans currently dependent on the coverage.
"Right now, you just cut them off? What do you do about those folks?" a reporter asked Scott. He said he would work with the Trump administration to come up with an affordable healthcare reform plan.
Scott, a former healthcare industry CEO, grew visibly frustrated during the reporters' questions, responding adamantly that the program doesn't work. "It was a disaster," the governor said. "It didn't control costs, it was a complete lie."
"They said you got to keep your doctor; you don't," Scott added. "They said healthcare costs would go down; they went up. Any time the government gets involved the healthcare costs are going up."
Martinez, Scott and their two colleagues participating in the news conference, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina, said they expected the Trump administration to craft a replacement healthcare system that serves all states' individual needs.
"There's a lot of conversations that still need to come with his team to be able to say, what is best for Americans that need insurance and want insurance," Martinez told reporters.
She said she would like to maintain the "good parts" of the Affordable Care Act, including the prohibition against denying insurance because of pre-existing medical conditions and the regulation that allows children to remain on their parents' policies until they're 26 years old.
Trump also has said that he wants to maintain those provisions.