OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee came away from his first face-to-face encounter with President Donald Trump on Monday with greater concern that the president’s approaches on health care and immigration could wind up hurting tens of thousands of Washington residents.
“We came here looking for some level of assurance that people would not lose their health insurance, that there would not be baseless immigration efforts that damages our businesses and our Dreamers. We have not received that assurance,” Inslee said in a phone call with reporters in Olympia. “In fact it’s actually been the opposite.”
Inslee traveled to the nation’s capital for the three-day meeting of the National Governors Association. Trump hosted governors at a Washington, D.C., banquet Sunday and Inslee was among a group that met with the president Monday morning.
The administration’s plan for repealing and replacing Obamacare was a dominant concern of governors and Trump “did not demonstrate any recognition of the issue,” Inslee said.
“I was shocked when the president said, and this is almost a direct quote, ‘Who knew that health care was going to be complicated?’” Inslee said “It was just stunning to have the president, who wants to dismantle the whole system, basically show he doesn’t understand the complexities.”
Inslee said he also had a chance to speak with Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price on Sunday and again Monday. Both times he sought assurances that whatever replaces the Affordable Care Act would not result in people losing insurance. Price didn’t provide one, Inslee said.
The Democratic governor sounded as disappointed with the administration approach on immigration following the meeting with the president and an earlier one with Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.
Kelly issued guidelines last week for stepped-up enforcement that has incited much concern about mass deportations. And Trump is said to be planning to announce a new travel ban after Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson successfully sued to block the president’s initial prohibition on travel from seven predominantly Muslim nations.
The president told governors those with previous criminal records would be targeted in phase one of enforcement of immigration laws, but said nothing about future phases, according to Inslee. And the president did not say if those covered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, or DACA, would be left alone, the governor said.
Meanwhile, in Olympia, Republican state lawmakers sounded far less concerned Monday about how GOP plans will affect those enrolled in Obamacare in the state.
“Whatever is going to happen it’s going to be phased-in so we’ll have time to look at it,” said Sen. Randi Becker, R-Eatonville, vice-chairwoman of the Senate Health Care Committee.
Rep. Matt Manweller, R-Ellensburg predicted the state will get opportunities to provide more affordable health insurance.
“We’ll do better than what was given to us eight years ago,” he said.
Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; email@example.com Twitter: @dospueblos.