WASHINGTON ― In January, Donald Trump made a remarkable promise: Under his administration, “everybody” would have health care coverage.
“We’re going to have insurance for everybody,” Trump said. “There was a philosophy in some circles that if you can’t pay for it, you don’t get it. That’s not going to happen with us.”
In 2015, Trump similarly told CBS’s “60 Minutes,” “Everybody’s got to be covered.”
But it’s clear now that everybody will not have health insurance under the GOP plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that 24 million people stand to lose coverage over the next decade under the Republican American Health Care Act.
Although the White House disputes the CBO’s conclusions, press secretary Sean Spicer was already adding caveats to the president’s January pledge on Tuesday.
In his press briefing, Spicer argued that Obamacare created expensive plans that people can’t afford, so they decided to go without health coverage. He said Trump’s plan would create lower costs and give “more people the option to have health care.”
“Everybody has a choice to get it,” Spicer added, “and I think that’s what we want to do is give everyone who wants to get health care the financial ability to get it.”
Later, Spicer said “insurance for everybody” was less of a promise and more of a “goal.”
“I think the president’s goal is to make insurance available to everybody,” he said. “Yes, that’s what he intends to do. I think that is the goal of this is to make sure that every American has the choice and a plan that they can afford, and that they have the choice to buy. And that’s not what they have now.”
In other words, instead of everyone having insurance, as Trump promised, now the White House’s goal is that everyone will have the choice to have insurance.
The CBO, in its much-awaited analysis released Monday, also took issue with the White House’s claim that health care will suddenly be significantly more affordable. It found, for example, that a 64-year-old who makes $26,500 could face an increase in his or her premiums from $1,700 now to $14,600 under the GOP bill.
The Republican scheme would also likely increase how much people pay for their deductible ― the amount of money people pay upfront before insurance benefits kick in ― because it would get rid of the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that insurance plans cover at least 60 percent of medical costs. So premiums may go down, but that’s because insurance companies would be able to offer skimpier plans that cover less and have higher out-of-pocket costs.
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