10 Benchmarks Trump Has to Reach, to Make His Plan Better Than ObamaCare
George Stephanopoulos went about as far as any TV newscaster goes these days, asking White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders three times, “Can the president guarantee that no one would lose coverage under his plan?” And Sanders repeated Trump's intent to “replace it with something better” while inserting hedge words like “goal” and “high priority,” with no guarantee.
Stephanopoulos did reference a study suggesting 30% to 50% of new enrollees may lose their coverage under the new Trump plan, but sadly, as is the protocol of TV news, Sarah introduced without retort the latest Trumpcare talking points about Obamacare. “It’s not sustainable and everyone agrees with that” and “Even Democrats will admit that Obamacare is not sustainable.”
24 hours a day of news coverage, and yet TV news never seems to have the time to dig deeper. Asking the same question three times is the TV news definition of hard-hitting. We live in a world where viewers can hate Obamacare and like the Affordable Care Act, and pundits can call Obamacare a disaster, without backing up the claim with facts and data.
I am here to help. Most TV news hosts can only muster the pre-existing condition requirement and kids up to 26 staying on their parents' plan features of the ACA. As a public service for busy TV news journalists, here are some facts you may want to split-screen with Mitch, Paul and the Freedom Caucus.
If Trumpcare is going to be “much better,” what will it be much better than?
1. Better than 89% of Americans with full coverage?
This is the highest percentage of Americans with full coverage in our history. Twenty million more Americans have full insurance than before Obamacare. A disaster? For whom?
2. Better than 6.5% rate of inflation?
While 6.5% is well over the rate of inflation for the nation's economy, the rate has dropped from 11.8% before Obama took office in 2007 to 6.5% in 2015. With doctor-friendly Tom Price in charge of Health and Human Services, how exactly are they going to lower costs and those inflation rates?
Will they freeze costs? Would be nice to see this chart on screen when CNN is talking to Paul Ryan.
3. Better than 10 Essential Health Benefits without lifetime or annual dollar limits?
When you hear “freedom,” think about the “freedom” not to be covered for some ailment. Yeah, I am free to pay for something I didn’t have to pay for under Obamacare. Under the ruse of not paying for things you don’t use, Trumpcare will certainly be attacking the under-appreciated core standards and baseline coverage established under the ACA, while still calling it “coverage.”
Will Wolf Blitzer put the list on screen while discussing Trumpcare with the Freedom Caucus?
Here are the 10 Essential Health Benefits (thanks ObamacareFacts.com): hospitalizations, laboratory services, maternity care, mental health and substance abuse treatment, outpatient, or ambulatory care, pediatric care, prescription drugs, preventive care, rehabilitative and rehabilitative (helping maintain daily functioning) services, vision and dental care for children.
4. Better than $7,150 out-of-pocket maximum for a single person for a year?
Everything is so damn blah, blah, blah. You constantly hear Republicans moan about the high costs of Obamacare, but never the brass tacks. In 2017, the absolute most a single person can pay out of pocket is $7,150. That’s a lot of money, but will Trumpcare offer a lower maximum out-of-pocket?
I don’t care if they call them vouchers or tax credits or Willie Wonka Health Bars: the simple, never asked question is, will anyone have to pay more than $7,150 maximum under Trumpcare?
5. Better than $14,300 out-of-pocket maximum for a family?
This is an outrageous amount of money for any middle-class family. And one would hope this was a rare family experience with plans paying 70% to 90% of costs. Again, one would assume any Trumpcare plan would GUARANTEE that no family in America is EVER going to pay more than $14,300 out-of-pocket maximum if their plan is “much better”—right?
6. Better than 20 million people with full insurance under Obamacare?
Here is where Trump can beat Obama. With over 28 million Americans at the end of 2015 still without insurance per Kaiser Family Foundation, Trump could easily trump Obama and beat his record-breaking 20 million more Americans with full insurance. Trump said he wanted everybody to be insured. If he can pull that off, he will have the yugest number.
That’s what he means by “much better,” right?
7. Better than Kentucky’s 12.6% reduction in the uninsured?
I am certain Anderson Cooper will be sharing this slide with Mitch McConnell and congratulating him and his state Kentucky for finishing first in the reduction of uninsured nationwide under the ACA.
How great is that Kentucky?
Will Trumpcare produce a bigger drop in uninsured in a state during Trump's term?
8. Better than $16,243 eligibility for an individual for Medicaid?
If you want to enter territory anathema to TV news, try discussing real wages in the Heartland with the millionaire congress members and well-paid pundits, think tankers and journalists on TV news.
You will hear safe terms like “Medicaid expansion.” But no one wants to get specific and talk about what that means exactly. Obamacare pays states up to 90% of the costs for people who make less than $16,243 a year to secure insurance under Medicaid—people making a little over $300 a week.
Over 11 million people who couldn’t afford health care because they were making more than the poverty level, but less than $16,243 a year are now covered.
How will Trumpcare be better for them? And a side note—if the minimum wage was $15/hour they wouldn’t need Medicaid at all.
9. Better than $400 a month for full coverage for a single parent of three making $40,000 a year?
Will CNN ever discuss a specific example with a politician?
Here’s one example: A single mom of three in New York making $40,000 a year can secure a Gold Plan with low deductibles, low out-of-pocket, vision and dental for her and her family that would cost $1,050 a month. Under the ACA, she gets $650 in subsidies and pays $400 a month.
When you add co-pays and deductibles, $400-$500 for that single mom is probably still a stretch. Will that single mom pay less than $400 under Trumpcare?
10. Better than an $8,000-dollar subsidy for that same single parent of three making $40,000?
The same single mom is getting $8,000 a year from the government. Here is where the rubber hits the road. The ACA taxes folks making more money to make it possible for this single working mom to secure full health coverage.
I am certain there is a local journalist with kids probably making $40,000 somewhere in America. Would CNN have a local journalist discuss the ACA across the dais from Jeffrey Lord instead of Paul Begala?
Will Trumpcare cost less than $400 a month for this single mom? And still include the 10 Essential Health Benefits, a yearly cap of $14,300 and vision, dental and maternity?
CNN, please, I beg you: when Kellyanne, Sean Spicer, the Freedom Caucus, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell are on your set, pull out the data, put up a graph, bring in real people, and discuss real numbers and the reality for the 20 million people who now have coverage.
And ask them: will Trumpcare be much better than Obamacare?