No, We Are Not Going To Get Single Payer Under Donald Trump

This post appears in Repeal Obamacare, part of our ongoing series Broken Promises, a project to track the campaign promises of Donald Trump and if they hold true.
No, We Are Not Going To Get Single Payer Under Donald Trump

This has a lot of naive people intrigued:

President-elect Donald Trump said in a weekend interview that he is nearing completion of a plan to replace President Obama’s signature health-care law with the goal of “insurance for everybody,” while also vowing to force drug companies to negotiate directly with the government on prices in Medicare and Medicaid.

Trump declined to reveal specifics in the telephone interview late Saturday with The Washington Post....

In addition to his replacement plan for the ACA, also known as Obamacare, Trump said he will target pharmaceutical companies over drug prices.

“They’re politically protected, but not anymore,” he said of pharmaceutical companies.

... Trump pointed to several interviews he gave during the campaign in which he promised to “not have people dying on the street.”

“It’s not going to be their plan,” he said of people covered under the current law. “It’ll be another plan. But they’ll be beautifully covered. I don’t want single-payer. What I do want is to be able to take care of people,” he said Saturday.

He says he doesn't want single payer, but a lot of people who should know better think that's precisely what he's talking about. RoseAnn DeMauro, the pro-single-payer head of a nurses' union that endorsed Bernie Sanders, already said earlier this month, regarding single payer, that "The one I’m counting on the most is Trump." And last night there was this from an anti-Trump Republican strategist:

And this from a Washington Examiner writer:

And this from a senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation:


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First of all, there's no plan, and Trump says he intends to finalize the plan only when his designate for health and human services secretary, Tom Price, has taken office:

“It’s very much formulated down to the final strokes. We haven’t put it in quite yet but we’re going to be doing it soon,” Trump said. He noted that he is waiting for his nominee for secretary of health and human services, Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), to be confirmed. That decision rests with the Senate Finance Committee, which hasn’t scheduled a hearing.

Price, who's in the House now, cooked up his own plan a while back, one Politico called "radically conservative." Kaiser's Larry Levitt was not pleased, nor were other advocates of universal coverage:

“Young, healthy and wealthy people may do quite well under this vision of health care reform,” said Larry Levitt, a senior vice president at the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. “But the people who are older and poorer and sicker could do a lot worse.”

... “When it comes to issues like Medicare, the Affordable Care Act and Planned Parenthood, Congressman Price and the average American couldn’t be further apart,” said New York Sen. Chuck Schumer.... “Between this nomination of an avowed Medicare opponent to serve as HHS secretary and Republicans here in Washington threatening to privatize Medicare, it’s clear that Republicans are plotting a war on seniors next year.”

... “They will … not just roll back five or 10 years of progress -- but 50.” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, a consumer advocacy group that supports Obamacare.

Trump's promises are of the say-anything variety familiar to anyone who paid attention to Trump University:

The ads for his university were classic Donald Trump -- Trump stares into the camera and proclaims:

"We're going to have professors and adjunct professors that are absolutely terrific people, terrific brains, successful. We are going to have the best of the best... and these are people that are handpicked by me."

... [But in] Trump's own deposition [in] December [2015], Trump failed to recognize the name of a single presenter or teacher at his real estate seminars. He also confirmed he had nothing to do with the selection process of instructors who taught at the school's events or mentors for the school's "Gold Elite" programs.

A review of Trump University presenters and so-called real estate experts found many with questionable credentials and inflated resumes. Court documents show background-checks conducted during the hiring process could not determine whether some instructors even graduated high school.

Beyond that, this would be the first time Trump took on not just one company but several entire industries -- the health insurance industry, the drug industry, the medical devices industry, and so on. This is also when he takes on the Koch network, and possibly talk radio. (Fox would fall in line.) This wouldn't be like criticizing the Iraq War or insulting John McCain -- the opinion-shapers on the right were all too willing to let him get away with that if it seemed he was motivating the GOP base. In this case, the interests of many, many large corporations would be at stake, not just one at a time, as in some of his recent Twitter skirmishes. After the presidential campaign, Trump seems unbeatable, but he'd be going after the kinds of people who've beaten him in business in the past, and he'd be angering a lot of them at once. He'd be overmatched.

But it's not going to happen. Price and his crew will give Trump a godawful, classically Republican plan, and he'll sell dross as gold, the way he did with Trump U. It's not clear whether he'll know he's selling a terrible plan, but he'll sell it anyway. He'll never admit that the plan's coverage is less than universal, that the cost is a budget-buster, or that the coverage the most vulnerable will be able to obtain is dreadful. We might as well call it Trump University Care.

Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog

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