Trump's big health promises ignore the coronavirus pandemic's reality
President Trump's convention speech last night did not frame the coronavirus as a thing that's over, the way some of the other programming during the convention had.
What happened: He acknowledged the 180,000 Americans who have died, and the toll on their families, and used the present and future tenses to describe a response that is still ongoing, but he painted a rosier picture of the U.S. response, and made bolder predictions, than the facts fully support.
Trump promised that the U.S. "will produce a vaccine by the end of the year, or maybe even sooner."
- There's just no way to promise that — at least not responsibly. The progress so far has been encouraging, but all of the leading candidates are still being tested to find out whether they work.
He also said convalescent plasma — the treatment the FDA controversially authorized last week — will "save thousands of lives."
- The evidence is much thinner than that; clinical studies into its effectiveness are still ongoing.
As for the rest of his health care agenda, Trump made fairly typical exaggerations of his record on drug prices. It is certainly true that the administration has proposed some ambitious plans to rein in pharmaceutical pricing, but it has hardly enacted any of those proposals.
- And he said that in a second term, he would "end surprise medical billing, require price transparency, and further reduce the cost of prescription drugs and health insurance premiums."
- The administration has required price transparency for hospitals, despite the industry's staunch opposition, and it also imposed new price disclosure rules on drugs, though they have been blocked by the courts.
The bottom line: There wasn't much here that you haven't already heard, and the reality of the coronavirus remains what you know it to be: The U.S. has handled this far worse than any other rich country on Earth.