Oct 4, 2019

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

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

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Medicare Advantage isn't expected to slow down thanks to aging seniors

President Donald Trump signs an executive order to protect and improve Medicare. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Health insurers continue to see Medicare Advantage as a lucrative business, especially as aging Baby Boomers have propelled enrollment to about 22 million people, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: Health insurers and the Trump administration are working fast to sign people up for the private Medicare plans instead of traditional Medicare. And the president's executive order last week aims to keep funneling even more people toward Medicare Advantage over time, Axios' Marisa Fernandez writes.

Go deeperArrowOct 10, 2019

Nancy Pelosi isn't a big fan of "expensive" Medicare for All

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Bloomberg on Friday she isn't a "big fan" of Medicare for All, calling the program "expensive."

Why it matters: The comments came the same day presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren unveiled her proposal to pay for a Medicare-for-All program. Other candidates, like Sen. Bernie Sanders and Julian Castro also support the principle.

Go deeperArrowNov 1, 2019

Trump's smoke-and-mirrors 2020 health care strategy

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Trump may be telling voters everything that they want to hear when it comes to health care, but much of it isn't true.

Why it matters: Trump is claiming victories he hasn't achieved and making promises he's not prepared to live up to, all on an immensely personal subject that voters consistently rank as one of the most important issues of 2020.