In an opinion piece published in USA Today on Wednesday, President Donald Trump wrote about Democratic proposals to move America toward a Medicare-for-All healthcare system, and according to The Washington Post, nearly every sentence of the op-ed contained a misleading statement or outright falsehood.
Here is a rundown of just a few:
“Throughout the year, we have seen Democrats across the country uniting around a new legislative proposal that would end Medicare as we know it and take away benefits that seniors have paid for their entire lives.”
Trump is correct in that Bernie Sanders’ Medicare-for-All proposal has gained popularity among progressives and even some traditional Democrats, but he is off when it comes to how such a program might affect America’s seniors.
Medicare, the health care system for the elderly and disabled, is a federal single-payer plan, but people under 65 get insurance from employers, through the individual market (Obamacare) or through Medicaid, the federal-state health system for the poor. Private health insurance plans, such as those offered through employers, would be eliminated, according to the Congressional Research Service.
Sanders says he would first improve Medicare for seniors and the disabled by eliminating deductibles and covering dental, vision and hearing aids, which are not covered under current law. Then, over the course of four years, the eligibility age would be lowered in stages until every American was covered.
On paper at least, the Sanders plan would improve benefits for seniors, not take them away.
“As a candidate, I promised that we would protect coverage for patients with pre-existing conditions and create new health care insurance options that would lower premiums. I have kept that promise, and we are now seeing health insurance premiums coming down.”
As The Post points out, Trump did make this promise — but then he broke it.
He supported Republican plans that would have weakened protections for individuals with preexisting conditions. His administration also has refused to defend the Affordable Care Act against a lawsuit that would undermine those protections. In effect, the Trump administration no longer supports a provision of the ACA, a.k.a. Obamacare, that makes it possible for people to buy insurance if they have preexisting health conditions. (We labeled this as a flip-flop.)
As for premiums, they have continued to increase on average, just at a lower rate than in the past. But experts say that without Trump’s moves to weaken the Affordable Care Act, premiums would be even lower in many states.
“Democrats have already harmed seniors by slashing Medicare by more than $800 billion over 10 years to pay for Obamacare.”
Here, Trump is bringing back an old — and misleading — Republican talking point.
The Affordable Care Act actually strengthened the near-term outlook of the Part A trust fund. The law includes a 0.9 percent payroll tax that hits the wages and self-employment income of wealthier Americans — above $250,000 per couple or $200,000 for a single taxpayer. That was estimated to raise an additional $63 billion for the Part A trust fund between 2010 and 2019. The law also was estimated to cut expenses, including $162 billion in productivity adjustments to provider payments and $86 billion in reduced payments to Medicare Advantage plans. The net result was that the “insolvency” date was extended by 12 years.
In other words, the savings that Trump complains about mostly were wrung from health-care providers, not Medicare beneficiaries — who, as a result of the health care law, ended up with new benefits for preventive care and prescription drugs.
Moreover, the $800 billion in Medicare reductions in the ACA that Trump complains about are the law of the land. In fact, Republicans in Congress and the Trump administration in their budget plans have pocketed virtually all those savings — and sought even more reductions in Medicare spending on top of that. Trump proposed $350 billion in net Medicare cuts in his budget — and there were about $540 billion in Medicare cuts assumed in the House GOP budget plan.
“The Democrats' plan also would mean the end of choice for seniors over their own health-care decisions. Instead, Democrats would give total power and control over seniors’ health care decisions to the bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.”
Medicare is currently a government-run program, with hospital and doctor fees paid by the government, so this appears to be an absurd point.
“The new Democrats are radical socialists who want to model America’s economy after Venezuela.”
This is a common assertion among Republicans today, but there is no basis for the statement.
Venezuela is collapsing after years of near-dictatorship and squandering of oil wealth, but we are unaware of any Democratic leader who has pointed to Venezuela as an economic model.