Q: There are a lot of people who are worried about getting sick, and do they end up in a hospital. People who are uninsured, and will they be crushed by medical bills. You were considering, last month — it was last month already, in March — reopening the Healthcare.gov exchanges. There has been a determination not to do that. Could you tell us what the rationale was behind that decision —Maybe someone can cut this out and hand it to a doctor instead of money:
Trump: I'll tell you. Mike?
Q: — and what — what do you have as an alternative?
Trump: Okay. They took that up under the task force, and maybe, Mike, you want to say a few word about this — words about that?
Pence: Well, thank you, Mr. President. And what I can tell you is that the President has made a priority, from the outset of our task force work, to make sure every American knows that they can have a coronavirus and they don't have to worry about the cost. We were very inspired as well, because of the President's engagement with the leading health insurance companies in the country that now — so far, two of the top health insurance companies in America have announced that they're not only willing to waive co-pays on testing, and now testing is fully covered because of the bill the President signed for every American.
Q: But about people who don't have insurance?
Pence: But also, that these two insurance companies have waived co-pays on all coronavirus treatment. And I can assure you that as Congress and the President and the administration begin to discuss the next piece of legislation, we're going to make sure that Americans have those costs compensated and covered. Our priority right now is ensuring that every American takes the "30 Days to Slow the Spread" to heart. The best thing we can do for one another, for our family's health, for the most vulnerable among us, is practice those mitigation strategies that the President outlined yesterday for the next 30 days. We're dealing with testing to make sure that every American can have a test that needs one. We're dealing — we're dealing with supplies, and we're making great progress in building personal protective equipment and ensuring that ventilators are available, particularly for the communities most impacted. But the American people can be confident that as we move into this, we're going to make sure that our healthcare workers are properly compensated for their extraordinary and courageous work. And we'll make sure that the financial burden on those who end up contracting the coronavirus and dealing with its most serious symptoms also can deal with those issues and deal with those costs.
Q: Understood, Mr. Vice President. But there will be people who don't have insurance who get sick before any of these mitigation efforts are put into place. And without opening the healthcare exchanges, where can they find insurance? The people who aren't insured by these companies that are covering the cost of the co-pay, where can people go now to get health insurance if they get sick — before they sick?
Pence: Well, all across America, we have Medicaid for underprivileged Americans. And at the President's direction, the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services has given unprecedented waivers for states to expand coverage for coronavirus testing and treatment. We've also extended waivers for Medicare administration to make sure that people have access to that coverage. But we're going to continue to bring opportunities to the President. The traditional systems of Medicaid, in particular, for the uninsured in America —
Q: Could you expand that to cover middle-class people?
Pence: Well, the — I think what we're seeing health insurance companies do today, John, is really inspiring. I mean, one of the things —
Q: But, again, Mr. Vice President —
Pence: One of the things that's characterized —
Q: I'm sorry to belabor a point, but that's for people who —
Pence: — the President's approach here —
Q: That's for people who already have insurance.
Pence: Well, one of the things that has animated and characterized the President's approach is the way he's engaged American businesses to step up and do their part. And as the President said many times, we're — we're inspired by the spirit of American businesses. I was at distribution center for Walmart today in Southern Virginia, and I saw the way this company that, literally, has already hired thousands of people — these workers are coming to work, the truck drivers are coming to work, farmers are working in the field. Grocery stores made a commitment to the President, a month ago, that no grocery store in America would close down. The food supply is strong. We're getting food on the table of every American. But it's because the President went to these leaders and said, "We need you to step up and do your part." We engaged health insurance executives early on in this process to waive — to waive co-pays on coronavirus testing. And because of the engagement — and, frankly, because of that, that patriotic and compassionate spirit that's being reflected — we've already seen two of the largest insurance companies in the country announce that they're going to be providing full coverage, free of charge, for coronavirus treatment. I fully expect, I think as the President does too, that we'll see more of that for people that have insurance. And we'll continue to provide flexibility for Medicaid, for people that don't have insurance. And we'll make sure that Medicare has the flexibility to meet this moment for seniors — when we remember that seniors with underlying health conditions are the most vulnerable to serious outcomes from the coronavirus. But we'll get through this using the full weight of the federal government and the full strength of the American economy.
Trump: John, I think this: I think it's a very fair question though, and it's something we're really going to look at because it doesn't seem fair. If you have it, you have a big advantage. And at certain income level you do. I think it's one of the greatest answers I've ever heard, because Mike was able to speak for five minutes and not even touch your question.
Trump: So, I said — I said, that's what you call a great professional. But let me just tell you, you really are — it's really a fair question and it's something we're looking at.
Q: Well, I think — I mean, just in terms of a fair question or not, I always endeavor to ask fair questions — but this is a huge worry —
Trump: Yeah, I know.
Q: — for people in this country who are in that donut hole —
Trump: We'll look.
Q: — where they don't have — they don't have commercial insurance, they don't qualify for Medicaid.
Q: What do they do?
Trump: They're a certain group. And it's a pretty big group. We're looking at it.
Q: I mean, we spent the entire 2000 election talking about the donut hole, and it's still there.
Trump: Yeah. We are — I haven't been up there yet though, you know. The other people have been talking about it.
Q: No, I mean, this was 2000.
Trump: And they haven't spoken —
Q: This was 20 years ago, we were talking about it.
Trump: But they're thinking about it. They're talking about it.
Q: Gore v. Bush — it was all about the donut hole.
Trump: I know, but they're talking about it in 2020 election, too. And nobody has gotten to it. Nobody has talked about at all.
Q: Can you get to it, Mr. President?
Trump: I think we will, yeah. I think we're going to get to it. I think we're going to get to it. I don't think the other group will get to it. They haven't even spoken about it. And it's a big group of people.
Q: So are you committing that there is something you're going do for —
Trump: No, I'm not committing. But it's something we're going to look at.
Q: — for the uninsured, for —
Trump: I can't commit. I have to get approval from it. I have thing called "Congress." But it's something we're going to look at. And we have been looking at it.
Q: But in the —
Trump: Go ahead. [Next question]
I think this: I think it's a very fair question ... it's something we're really going to look at ... it's really a fair question and it's something we're looking at. ... I know. ... We'll look. ... They're a certain group. And it's a pretty big group. We're looking at it. ... We are — I haven't been up there yet though, you know. The other people have been talking about it. ... But they're thinking about it. They're talking about it. ... I know, but they're talking about it ... And nobody has gotten to it. Nobody has talked about at all. ... I think we're going to get to it. I think we're going to get to it. I don't think the other group will get to it. They haven't even spoken about it. And it's a big group of people. ... I'm not committing. But it's something we're going to look at. ... I can't commit. I have to get approval from it. I have thing called "Congress." But it's something we're going to look at. And we have been looking at it.