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Trump still doesn't have an alternative to "Medicare for All"

Trump walks, leaving a trail in the shape of a health care cross
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

What the White House billed yesterday as a high-profile counterpunch to “Medicare for All” turned out to be much less significant — a fairly normal, fairly vague policy statement with no real implications for 2020.

Between the lines: Trump is promoting Medicare Advantage over traditional Medicare, and that does matter for the program and the federal budget. But it’s not a new position and not one that has much to do with the broader debate over the American health care system.

What they're saying: "Proposals like Medicare for All, as well as the public options, are not just impractical, they are morally wrong because they would demote American seniors to little better than second-class status," Medicare and Medicaid administrator Seema Verma told reporters yesterday.

Reality check: Plenty of what the Trump administration has said is hyperbole, untrue or unknowable. And the policy the administration rolled out has little to do with these big-picture issues.

  • "I think this is the shapings of a political argument for why Medicare for All is bad, not an alternative to Medicare for All," said a health insurance executive familiar with GOP politics.

Details: Yesterday's executive order requires regulatory changes advantageous to Medicare Advantage, which is run by private insurers.

  • "This is not any radical change by the administration, just a continuation of their push to increase flexibilities in MA and increase the supplemental benefits offerings for beneficiaries," said Avalere's Chris Sloan.

Go deeper: How seniors are being steered toward private Medicare plans