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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.

Trump's most demonstrably false claim is that, as he put it in May, “we will always protect patients with pre-existing conditions."

  • The Trump administration is currently urging the courts to strike down the Affordable Care Act, including its protections for pre-existing conditions.
  • Trump and congressional Republicans' efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act in 2017 didn't include the same level of protection as the ACA does, nor have they ever proposed a plan that would.

Trump's claim that he has lowered drug prices for the first time in 51 years is murky at best. The timeframe is definitely wrong, as WaPo reports, though the recent realities of drug pricing are more nuanced.

  • Prices for generics are falling, which brings down the average cost of drugs overall. Prices for commonly used drugs, including generics, fell in 2018, according to a White House report.
  • But that average masks steady increases in the price of drugs that treat rarer diseases, which don't have generic competition.
  • Brand-name drugs' prices increased by only 0.3% in 2018, per IQVIA, although per-capita spending on specialty drugs increased by 5.8%.

On defense — attacking Democrats over "Medicare for All" — Trump is also making some dubious claims.

  • "Almost every major Democrat in Washington has backed a massive government healthcare takeover that would totally obliterate Medicare.... They want to raid Medicare to fund a thing called socialism," he said last week.
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders' "Medicare for All" bill would indeed replace traditional Medicare, but seniors' health care benefits would get more generous under that plan, as written — not less. However, critics of the plan say it would likely reduce seniors' access to care.
  • And though it's true that Sanders' bill would eliminate private health insurance, other plans would retain it as an option.

The other side: "Democrats, apparently unsatisfied with lying about healthcare once when they introduced Obamacare, have now introduced sweeping proposals, such as Medicare-for-All. These radical and dangerous policies would take away the insurance Americans know and trust while raising taxes and reducing choice," White House spokesman Judd Deere said.

Yes, but: There's still a lot of time left before 2020, particularly for Trump to do something major on drug prices.

  • The administration's proposal to tie Medicare's payments for some drugs to the prices that other countries pay is still in play, and both the White House and House Democrats have said they're hopeful that there's still a drug-pricing deal to be made.

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

Go deeper

Oct 16, 2020 - Health

Trump administration announces deal with CVS, Walgreens to give COVID-19 vaccine to seniors

Photo: Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The Trump administration announced an agreement on Friday with CVS and Walgreens to distribute coronavirus vaccines to seniors and staff in long-term care facilities for free.

Why it matters: The move could help the president move up in the polls with elderly voters. Seniors, who have been significantly impacted by the virus, helped Trump get elected in 2016, but recent polls have indicated that the group swung sharply against him and toward Joe Biden.

Collins helps contractor before pro-Susan PAC gets donation

Sen. Susan Collins during her reelection campaign. Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images

A PAC backing Sen. Susan Collins in her high-stakes reelection campaign received $150,000 from an entity linked to the wife of a defense contractor whose firm Collins helped land a federal contract, new public records show.

Why it matters: The executive, Martin Kao of Honolulu, leaned heavily on his political connections to boost his business, federal prosecutors say in an ongoing criminal case against him. The donation linked to Kao was veiled until last week.

How cutting GOP corporate cash could backfire

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Companies pulling back on political donations, particularly to members of Congress who voted against certifying President Biden's election win, could inadvertently push Republicans to embrace their party's rightward fringe.

Why it matters: Scores of corporate PACs have paused, scaled back or entirely abandoned their political giving programs. While designed to distance those companies from events that coincided with this month's deadly siege on the U.S. Capitol, research suggests the moves could actually empower the far-right.