Tillis: 'President is a disruptive force, in a positive way'

Tillis: 'President is a disruptive force, in a positive way'

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Senator Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina) said Friday he is not paying a lot of attention to numbers tied to Congressional Budget Office estimates for American Health Care Act, the Republican plan for repealing the Affordable Care Act signed into law by President Barack Obama. The non-partisan group released its' projections this week, saying compared to the ACA, the AHCA would result in as many as 14 million fewer people enrolled in Medicaid by the year 2026.

"I don't believe that any more than the headlines when we disallowed the expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare in the state of North Carolina when I was Speaker of the House," Sen. Tillis said during an interview Friday with WECT. "Everybody said we were 'turning out backs on everybody who needed Medicaid coverage'. We expanded Medicaid to 300,000 people, not under Obamacare, but under the rules that exist today.  That's why we're posting a roughly $80 million surplus in our Medicaid obligation in this state, because we did it in a way that was sustainable. So, I think we will find a solution for the vast majority of people who need healthcare. Those numbers (CBO estimates) are great for the polarizing forces that want to prevent anything from happening, but I don't think they are material to what we will get done this year."

Sen. Tillis calls the version of the AHCA being debated in House Committees is just "a first step" in the process President Donald Trump and his Cabinet are taking to rework what he calls an "unsustainable system" of healthcare.

"I'm viewing it in the context of what the HHS Secretary (Tom Price) will do with revising and repealing all of the thousands of regulations that have gone into place that were authorized under the Affordable Care Act," Sen. Tillis said. "I'm viewing it in the terms of what other policies that will pass. I'm looking at it in terms of all the other levers we will put into play to really get healthcare to a point where it is sustainable. Because the Affordable Care Act is not an option. It will cause a healthcare crisis in this country. Over the next couple of years most major insurers will not offer individual healthcare policies. They will exit that market. That will create a safety-net problem and healthcare deficiencies in this country that we need to avoid, and we can only avoid it by making the tough decisions now and get it on sound footing."

Sen. Tillis has taken a lead role in immigration reform efforts in Congress. He recently joined a bi-partisan group of senators introducing a bill to provide additional visas for Afghans who supported the U.S. Mission in Afghanistan to apply for refuge in this country. Tillis also recently returned from a trip to the U.S. border with Mexico. A trip he says reaffirmed his belief that strengthening the border is paramount to the country's security. Tillis also supports President Trump's travel ban executive orders, which restricted visas for nationals in several majority-Muslim countries and banned almost all refugees from entering the United States. A federal court judge blocked the president's "revised ban" this week hours before it was to take effect.

"He's not asking for a perpetual ban," Sen. Tillis said about President Trump's travel bans. "He's asking for a pause to make absolutely certain we're not making bad decisions. There are clearly investigations the FBI has completed where people that came to this country came through as asylum seekers and then committed bad acts, or were accused of bad acts and are going through the court system. He's not acting on the hypothetical, he's acting on the real threats that the program creates if we don't get it right and we don't know whose coming in and what their backgrounds are and what their intents are."

As for President Trump's rants on Twitter that include calling media outlets "fake news", and claiming CNN, the New York Times, NBC, ABC and CBS are "the enemy of the American people", the first-term senator from Mecklenberg County smiled and said he doesn't agree with everything the president does. But Sen. Tillis said he does like the way the president is stretching the way people think in Washington, and across the country.

"I think the president is a disruptive force in a positive way," Sen. Tillis said. "What I do like about this president is that he is committed to fulfilling promises and producing results. In Congress, we have to do the same thing. We need to recognize the American people are tired of Democrats and Republicans making a lot of promises, and they come up with a million different reasons why they are not producing results. We need to produce outcomes. We need to fulfill promises, and I think our president is going to do that."

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