Doctor confronts Vice President Mike Pence over Medicaid cuts in Iowa

"They're just making things up," the doctor said of the Trump administration.

February 1, 2020, 6:08 PM

At a campaign stop in Iowa, Vice President Mike Pence was confronted by an emergency room doctor from Michigan who questioned the Trump administration's handling of Medicaid and Medicare.

In the clip, which has been viewed nearly three million times on Twitter, Dr. Rob Davidson -- also the executive director of the Committee to Protect Medicare -- pressed Pence about the state of health care insurance programs, as the vice president made his rounds shaking at the Drake Diner in Des Moines.

"I'm worried about plans they talked about last week of maybe cutting the Medicare and then the roll out today of cutting Medicaid," Davidson said during the event on Thursday. "I work ... with one of the poorest counties in Michigan and my patients depend on expanded Medicaid. So how is that going to affect my patients?”

Pence brushed off the question, saying "I haven't heard about cuts to Medicare."

Davidson went on, adding that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently announced plans to cut Medicaid by letting states file for waivers to receive block grants.

"So that would essentially cut the amount of money going to the states," Davidson continued. "So it would cut federal Medicaid funding. Is that a good idea?"

Pence reverted back to his record during his tenure as the governor of Indiana, pivoting away from his current position as a member of Trump's cabinet.

Vice President Mike Pence speaks during a campaign rally by President Donald Trump in Des Moines, Iowa, on January 30, 2020.
Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

The doctor was referring to the Trump administration revealing on Thursday plans to allow states to cap Medicaid spending for many poor adults, which would likely shrink the number of people receiving health benefits through the program.

In an interview with ABC News, Davidson claimed the encounter was impromptu and that he was in Iowa for a press conference related to his committee.

Davidson said he found the interaction "indicative of where they're moving with healthcare in general," adding that he thought Pence wasn't prepped to handled questions about his administration's healthcare policies.

"It just seems to be an overall pattern of them taking healthcare away from people," Davidson told ABC News.

The doctor expressed concern over Pence's reluctance to engage about the Trump administration health care policies, and coupled with the president saying recently that he saved pre-existing conditions despite fighting to dismantle those protections in the courts, Davidson said health care misinformation could be a major issue this election.

Vice President Mike Pence speaks at a campaign rally ahead of President Donald Trump at Drake University, Jan. 30, 2020, in Des Moines, Iowa.
Charlie Neibergall/AP

"They're just making things up for campaign purposes, I think they say things that are wildly ludicrous," he said, adding. "I think it's really incumbent on so many of us... to lay out what's really going on."

When asked what he thought people should take away from the viral interaction, Davidson said he thinks more people working in health care need to speak up.

"I think the burden is on us to step out of the exam room every once in a while and go on record as supporting policies that improve the lives of our patients," he said.

The administration has yet to detail a health care plan ahead of 2020, even after Trump told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos last June that he'd release one in the "next two months."

The vice president's office did not respond to a request for comment.

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