Sep 25, 2020 - Health

Trump's latest empty health care rhetoric on pre-existing conditions

Illustration of President Trump with his hands raised surrounded by hands pointing fingers at him.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images.

President Trump issued an executive order on Thursday pledging to protect Americans with preexisting conditions — which is not only toothless but also is only necessary if a Trump-backed lawsuit successfully dismantles the Affordable Care Act.

Why it matters: The presidential election is a month and a half away, and Republicans learned the hard way in 2018 that threatening the ACA's preexisting conditions protections is politically perilous.

  • But the executive order is yet another example of Trump's political gaslighting on the subject.
  • Executive orders such as this one "don’t have legal effect. They’re just internal memos with a fancy header. That’s all they are," tweeted Nick Bagley, a law professor at the University of Michigan.
  • Republicans have never come up with another way to offer the same level of protection the ACA does. If Trump succeeds in stripping the ACA's protections away, people with preexisting conditions would have every reason to worry about their coverage.

Trump also said that he'll be sending $200 prescription drug coupons to millions of Medicare beneficiaries "in the coming weeks," which STAT describes as a "nakedly political ploy to curry favor with seniors who view drug prices as a priority."

  • A White House spokesman told STAT that the money required to send these coupons would come from the savings generated by Trump's proposal to tie what the U.S. pays for drugs to what other countries pay — which is far from being actual policy.
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