News & Politics

Here Are 5 Things Trump Got Horribly Wrong in His USA Today Op-Ed on Medicare-for-All

It was a complete mess.

Photo Credit: White House/Andrea Hanks

During his 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump not only promised to overturn the Affordable Care Act of 2017, a.k.a. Obamacare, and replace it with something he claimed would provide much better health care at much lower prices—he would also protect Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security from dramatic cuts from fellow Republicans. But Trump and fellow Republicans have been consistently disingenuous on the subject of health care. The Trump Administration’s 2019 budget includes dramatic cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, and the American Health Care Act—a GOP-sponsored ACA replacement bill that was voted down in the Senate in 2017—would have, according to the Congress Budget Office, resulted in a whopping 23 million Americans losing their health insurance by 2026.

Given Trump’s abysmal track record on health care, it is impossible to believe a word he has to say on the subject—and the president has been receiving a great deal of criticism for a sloppy, health care-related October 10 op-ed for USA Today. Claiming that Democrats, unlike Republicans, are trying to destroy traditional Medicare, limit access to health coverage and throw older Americans to the wolves—all the while emulating Venezuela’s broken economy—Trump’s article contains one distortion after another.

Here are five things Trump got horribly wrong in his USA Today op-ed.

1. Trump Claims Democrats Wanted to ‘Gut Medicare’

Trump has repeatedly claimed that Democrats want to tear apart Medicare along with Medicaid and Social Security, but it is Republicans’ 2019 budget that calls for dramatic Medicare and Medicaid cuts. And House Speaker Paul Ryan has called for replacing traditional Medicare with a privatized voucher system—an idea Democrats have been vehemently outspoken against. Nonetheless, Trump obviously releases that his cult-like devotees automatically believe anything he has to say. And in his USA Today op-ed, the president insisted that he wants to “protect Medicare” from Democrats who “seek to slash budgets for seniors’ Medicare, Social Security and defense.”

2. Trump Insists That Medicare for All Would Mean ‘Open Borders Socialism’

There is absolutely nothing in any Democratic health care proposals that call for open borders. Democrats generally oppose Trump’s plan for a wall on the U.S./Mexico border, as it would cost American taxpayers a fortune. But one would be hard-pressed to find a Democrat who doesn’t see the need for strong border security. Trump’s op-ed, however, made the hysterical claim that achieving universal health care in the U.S. would mean “open-borders socialism” and having to “model America’s economy after Venezuela.” Of course, every single country in the European Union—from France to Denmark to Switzerland to Portugal—has maintained universal health care without suffering the tragic economic problems plaguing Venezuela. But facts and logic fall by the wayside when Trump is trying to terrorize Americans into supporting his far-right agenda.

3. Trump Claims That Republicans Want to Expand Health Care Options for Americans

In his USA Today op-ed, Trump claimed that Republicans want to increase health care options for Americans, while “radical socialists” in the Democratic Party want to greatly reduce them—which is nonsense. The ACA made it possible for more than 20 million Americans who previously lacked health insurance to obtain it, while the Trump-supported American Health Care Act (an absolutely wretched bill) would have taken it away from 23 million people (according to the CBO). The most popular part of the ACA—wildly popular, in fact—has been its rule that health insurance companies must cover preexisting conditions whether they like it or not. Nonetheless, there are still millions of Americans who lack health insurance, and Medicare-for-all proposals seek to cover them—not exclude them.

4. Trump Asserts That Republicans Have Been Trying to Increase Access to Health Coverage

Sen. Bernie Sanders was quick to respond to Trump’s op-ed with a USA Today op-ed of his own, and not surprisingly, the Vermont senator and 2016 presidential candidate tore many of Trump’s claims to pieces—including his false claim that Republicans have been fighting to increase health coverage for Americans. In his angry rebuttal, Sanders stressed, “As a result of (Trump’s) efforts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act, 13 million more Americans will become uninsured over the next decade, while millions more have seen their premiums rise. Further, his administration is working alongside 20 Republican state attorneys general to end the protection that the Affordable Care Act now guarantees to people with pre-existing conditions, such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes. No one can estimate how many thousands of those people will die if they can no longer purchase affordable insurance.”

Sanders was referring to Texas v. Azar, a lawsuit in which Republicans in 20 different states are seeking to abolish the ACA on the grounds that because the ACA’s individual mandate was eliminated by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, the entire ACA must be struck down (the individual mandate required Americans to have health insurance or pay a fine). And if the Texas v. Azar reaches the U.S. Supreme Court, it is possible that Trump’s new appointee, Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, would agree with the Republican plaintiffs and vote to overturn the ACA.

5. Trump Claims That Universal Health Care Would Be Unaffordable

In his op-ed, Trump parroted the tired Republican talking point that the U.S. simply cannot afford universal health care. But as Sanders noted in his rebuttal, it is health insurance companies that are guilty of so much waste and bureaucracy. The Vermont senator noted, “Study after study shows that when we eliminate private insurance premiums, deductibles and co-payments, the average American will pay substantially less for health care than he or she currently pays.” And Sanders cited an in-depth study from the Mercatus Center—which said that a Medicare-for-all program could save the average American about $6000 over a ten-year period—as well as a study from the RAND Corporation, which reported that a Medicare-for-all program in New York could save a family with an annual income of $185,000 or less about $3000 a year per person on average.

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Alex Henderson is a news writer at AlterNet and veteran political journalist. His work has also appeared in Salon, Raw Story, Truthdig, National Memo, Philadelphia Weekly, Democratic Underground, L.A. Weekly, MintPress News and many other publications. Follow him on Twitter @alexvhenderson.