President Donald Trump promised Wednesday to deliver better healthcare and cheaper costs and coverage for every person in the US in an interview with ABC News, raising the stakes in how he will address the future of healthcare in the US.
For one thing, Trump told ABC’s David Muir that the Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obamacare, is a disaster — a line the president has used before and after his election.
“It’s too expensive,” Trump said. “It’s horrible healthcare. It doesn’t cover what you have to cover. It’s a disaster. You know it and I know it.”
Trump also correctly pointed out that certain states — he cited Arizona and Minnesota — are seeing large increases in premiums in their ACA individual market exchanges.
To remedy this, Trump made a number of promises about what the Obamacare replacement would entail.
He said he wants “much better coverage at much less cost” and “much better healthcare plans at much less money.”
Yet perhaps the largest promise from Trump was the number of people he suggested his replacement would cover. Since the ACA’s passage, more than 20 million Americans have gained access to health insurance, and the uninsured rate has hit its lowest point ever.
Despite these gains, Trump said he doesn’t think the ACA has provided enough people with coverage. He told Muir his replacement will cover those the ACA has not.
“It’s going to be — what my plan is is that I want to take care of everybody,” said Trump. “I’m not going to leave the lower 20% that can’t afford insurance.” (Only about 10% of the US population no longer has coverage.)
Trump reiterated his promise later in the interview.
“So I want to make sure that nobody’s dying on the streets when I’m president,” Trump said. “Nobody’s going to be dying on the streets. We will unleash something that’s going to be terrific.”
Muir pressed the president on whether a replacement would mean that no one who has gained coverage because of the ACA would lose it.
“We want no one. We want the answer to be no one,” Trump said, though he admitted such a feat would be difficult.
So far, a flurry of proposals put forward by Republicans — including two Senate bills introduced by GOP lawmakers in the past week — do not appear to maintain coverage for Americans with coverage under the ACA, much less guarantee it for all Americans.
Additionally, most Republicans — from House Speaker Paul Ryan to Trump’s pick for secretary of Health and Human Services, Rep. Tom Price — have talked about providing “access” to coverage for all Americans, but have stopped short of promising that all people will have coverage.
Health-policy analysts have said that these three promises are also in conflict with one another. To expand coverage — especially to every single American — the cost to the government would have to increase, not decrease, in order to fund tax credits and coverage-expansion programs.
Republicans have begun the process of repealing the ACA and are in Philadelphia over the next few days to, among other things, craft a replacement.