mpFox News reporter John Roberts asked a simple question about health care policy today, but Donald Trump couldn’t give him a sensible answer.
It’s almost like the reality show star-turned-president doesn’t understand what he’s talking about.
During a Rose Garden press conference today with Alexis Tsipras, the prime minister of Greece, Roberts noted that legislation to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act had failed in Congress, asking “I’m wondering, at this point, what is your health care plan, sir?”
First, Trump responded by attacking the health insurance industry.
Well if you look, ah, insurance companies, and you take a good strong look at the numbers, you’ll see since the formation of Obamacare they’re up 400 percent, 450 percent, 250 percent, 300 percent — they’ve made a fortune, the insurance companies. So when I knocked out the hundreds of millions of dollars a month being paid back to the insurance companies by the politicians, I must tell you, that wanted me to continue to pay this, I said I’m not going to do it. This is money that goes to the insurance companies to line their pockets, to raise up their stock prices, and they’ve had a record run, they’ve had an incredible run, and it’s not appropriate.
Of course, the American health insurance system has been employer-based for decades, so the ACA was designed to make that current free market system work for individuals and businesses through system of supports, including cost-sharing reductions (CSRs).
However, Trump threw a monkey wrench into that machinery this weekend with an executive order, saying that “I want the money to go to the people. I want the money to go to poor people that need it. I want the money to go to people that need proper health care. Not to insurance companies.”
While that almost sounds like a call for single-payer, government-run insurance, Trump has no such policy outcome in mind. He’s just singling out health insurers to be the losing industry in America, with the costs already being passed down to individual rate-payers.
Again echoing his comments yesterday, Trump pivoted to describing the ACA as a “disaster.” Never mind that he is the disaster he says he would prevent.
It’s virtually dead, as far as I am concerned it really is dead, and I predicted that a long time ago — it is a concept that doesn’t work, and we are very close [to repeal]. We feel we have the votes, and as soon as we’re finished with taxes, John, we really feel we have the votes to get block grants into the states where the states can much better manage this money and much better take care of the people, rather than the federal government. The state block grants — we’ll do massive block grants into the various states so that the states can run the program.
It’s not clear what Trump is talking about when he claims to have the votes for repeal-and-replace. Those efforts fell short in July and again in August, while the Republican senators who refused to support Graham-Cassidy have not shown any sign of changing their minds. The bill would throw an estimated 32 million Americans off their health insurance.
Yet Trump still seems to think that failed legislation can work now. “So is Graham-Cassidy still the plan, sir?” Roberts asked as the alleged president veered off-topic.
“Yeah, essentially that would be the plan, yes,” Trump said. “Block grants.”
Contrary to what he says about putting money directly in the hands of those who need it, block grants are a great way to reduce actual spending on needed services while providing states with a convenient slush fund.
Before the press conference was over, Trump supported a late-breaking Senate compromise to support CSRs for another two years, essentially tripping over his own talking point.
Big news from POTUS press conference: Trump says he supports GOP-Dem compromise bill to extend #Obamacare subsidies
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) October 17, 2017
None of this should be a surprise. Trump has repeatedly demonstrated little understanding of how insurance markets work or the complexities of the industry that powers one-sixth of the United States economy.
“Nobody knew health care could be so complicated,” he opined in February. Speaking with The Economist, Trump apparently confused health insurance with life insurance in May. And during an interview with the New York Times in July, he seemed to think that young people pay only $12 a year for coverage.
The only thing he really understands is that Obamacare has the word “Obama” in it, and he doesn’t like Obama.
Here is video of Donald Trump’s remarks to John Roberts. Watch:
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