National News

Trump rolls out health care reform plan in latest trip to NC

Posted September 24, 2020 5:21 a.m. EDT
Updated September 24, 2020 6:46 p.m. EDT

— President Donald Trump returned to North Carolina on Thursday – his fifth visit to the state in the past month – to discuss his administration's vision for health care reform.

Trump signed an executive order implementing his "America First Healthcare Plan," which he said would provide consumers with more choice, lower costs and better care than the Affordable Care Act, which Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden helped put in effect a decade ago.

"Where they failed, we are delivering," Trump told a crowd of about 200 in Charlotte, including many health care professionals in lab coats and surgical scrubs. "We're standing up for our people. We're standing up to special interests. We're taking on the powerful lobbyists. We're stopping the radical socialists."

He ticked off a laundry list of features of the plan during a 40-minute speech, from protecting people with pre-existing conditions from losing coverage to price transparency for medical procedures to requiring that drugmakers provide the same price breaks they provide overseas to U.S. states and consumers.

"No one has taken on Big Pharma like this," he said. "This will be a game-changer for American seniors."

Americans would pay up to 60 percent less under the new plan than under "Obamacare," the common moniker for the ACA, he said, adding that health care premiums would be tax-deductible.

The advocacy group Protect Our Care called Trump's plan "a total scam."

"President Trump’s latest do-nothing executive orders are just another attempt to hide his disastrous record on health care ahead of the most important health care election in American history," Protect Our Care Executive Director Brad Woodhouse said in a statement. "While 135 million Americans with pre-existing conditions are currently protected by the Affordable Care Act, President Trump has done everything in his power to terminate those protections."

The various provisions of Trump's plan would supplant the ACA, often called "Obamacare," if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the law. The Trump administration is challenging it, and the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments in the case in November.

Trump and Republican lawmakers have tried to dismantle the ACA for years, succeeding in 2018 in ending the individual mandate that imposed a tax penalty for not having health coverage. Since then, he said, his administration has managed to stabilize remaining elements.

"Obamacare was terrible," he said. "It's still unacceptable to me because it's too expensive and doesn't really do the job."

Many in the audience agreed with that assessment.

“My son and daughter-in-law and grandchild had to go under that," said Anne Bloch, of Charlotte. "Their insurance went up exponentially.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Trump has "run Obamacare better than the guy whose name is on it."

"Where premiums doubled, and you lost doctors and you lost hospitals under President Obama, we've actually seen an increasing number of plans, increasing choice and an 8 percent overall decrease in premiums," Azar told WRAL News. "It is still a fundamentally broken and flawed plan from its inception, but President Trump has brought the leadership and executive business understanding to actually have Obamacare work better."

Democratic 4th District Congressman David Price said the ACA has provided vital coverage for millions of people.

"People in this country do not have adequate health care, and there are too many people uncovered, and the Affordable Care Act has made a tremendous difference," Price said. "If there are problems with the Affordable Care Act – and I know it is not perfect – I think we ought to look at it carefully. We certainly ought to stop sabotaging it, and then we need to see what will get those premiums down, what will make this more available and more affordable.”

Trump's visit to Charlotte comes one day after Biden was in the Queen City. During his visit on Wednesday, he spoke with Black small-business owners and others about how the pandemic has affected their lives.

"Despite repeatedly promising to release a health care proposal, President Trump has never offered a plan of his own," Biden said in a statement Thursday. "Instead, he cheered on attempts by Congressional Republicans to rip health care away from more than 20 million Americans and sides with Republicans in North Carolina who stand in the way of expanding Medicaid coverage to more than 700,000 North Carolinians."

North Carolina is a key battleground state, and a recent WRAL News poll had Trump and Biden tied among likely North Carolina voters at 47 percent each.

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