At President Trump’s rally in Montoursville Monday night, healthcare was as prominent in the president’s remarks as it is in the minds of Pennsylvania’s voters.
It’s a shame that this incredibly important issue — one that is literally a matter of life or death for so many people — has been the subject of lies and deep partisan spin by establishment politicians. Sometimes it feels almost impossible to get all the facts.
We know we pay too much for healthcare in America, sometimes absurdly so, as in the case of some prescription medications. What we don’t know is why it has to be like this, or how to fix it.
Anyone who tries to sell you on a simple answer, or claims to be have a neat, elegant fix that will magically reduce healthcare costs, is pulling your leg, no matter how catchy a name they give it. That was certainly true nine years ago — whether you called it the “Affordable Care Act” or “Obamacare,” it didn’t bring health costs under control the way its advocates promised it would. In fact, costs have soared.
The same is true today. Whether you call it “Medicare for All” or, as I prefer, “Medicaid for all,” you can’t avoid the fact that this radical plan would mean an end to the insurance coverage you currently have and a new system of bureaucratically-rationed care.
Whether that would look more like the abysmal coverage you associate with Medicaid or the so-so coverage you associate with “free,” unsupplemented Medicare, the outlook is far from inspiring. So why not examine the actual proven record of the sitting president?
In the first 19 months of the Trump administration, real progress was made to control the exploding costs of prescription drugs. Incentives for generic drugs, enhanced efficiencies in the FDA approval process, and policies to encourage competition managed to slow that cost growth for the first time in decades, saving Americans $26 billion.
Generally speaking, that’s been the pattern of this administration’s approach to healthcare: steady progress and common sense reforms, rather than flashy overhauls and sweet-sounding monikers.
Steady progress means overhauling the Veterans’ Administration, which provides care for over nine million veterans and was in a shameful state before President Trump took office. The largest VA budget in history is a huge step toward delivering the level of care we owe to those who served our country.
Common sense reforms include earmarking $500 million for childhood cancer research, an investment the president announced during his State of the Union address.
“Common sense health reforms” also include this administration’s efforts to confront the gravest health crisis facing Americans today: the tens of thousands of opioid overdoses and countless other lives ruined by illegal drugs. That problem is going to require a comprehensive approach, obviously including law enforcement and border security. The $6 billion that President Trump secured in his budget for treating addicts will go a long way towards making sure that we also address the healthcare angle of drug addiction.
Last, but certainly not least, President Trump’s health policy stance has never wavered from one central commitment: he will never sign any bill that will permit insurers to again neglect individuals with “pre-existing conditions.”
“The fake news doesn't want to say it. We will always protect pre-existing conditions, very important,” Trump said during the rally. “By the way, we got rid of the individual mandate, the worst part of Obamacare and we almost had it repealed and replaced but we had one man that after campaigning for eight years, he decided to go thumbs down at two o'clock in the morning.”
The president’s proven record of healthcare policy accomplishments offers a welcome contrast to the Democrats’ all-flash-but-no-substance “Medicare for All” proposal.
Let’s stick to the facts of steady progress in reforming healthcare in the Trump era and reject the reform plans that Democrats continue to propose, which are rooted in fantasy, not reality.