Trump Knows More About Health Care... Than Anyone

Another piece of Trump hyperbole. Ridiculous of course. But what does Donald J. Trump really know about health care? Thanks to OnTheIssues.org we can read his positions in his own words, because up until recently, his website had NO position on health care. (Update: a brief statement on his health care reform position is currently on his website.)

1. Trump says Obamacare is a disaster and should be repealed and replaced.
This is a standard part of his stump speech. He mainly mentions that deductibles and copayments are too high, and most would agree with him on that. But the increased premium costs he mentions are anecdotal and refer to a few individual plans in states where regulators may never approve those increases. He never mentions that Obamacare is associated with greatly reduced overall health care costs and the website is working quite well now.

2. Trump would replace Obamacare with Health Savings Accounts.
"We'll work something out," he says, which is his answer to every question. Don't let the enemy know what you plan to do. Not clear who the enemy is here. The replacement ideas for Obamacare focus mainly on two, very tired out Republican proposals -- Health Savings Accounts and Selling insurance across state lines. I have been writing about this for years and the message never changes. HSAs are popular in employer sponsored plans but they save money mainly by shifting upfront costs to employees. Research shows people don't use the care they need under these plans. Selling insurance across state lines would benefit the big insurance companies who could evade state regulation more easily, but the irony is that Obamacare has made it possible for more policies to be sold across state lines anyway. Apparently Trump's HR people didn't tell him about that.

3. Trump believes in a free market for health care but has also said he supports universal coverage.
He has stated he is a liberal on health care and he has supported a Canadian-style system in the past, even sounding like he agrees with Bernie Sanders about the need for universal coverage. His latest statements repudiate all that, so it's hard to figure out what he really means. It is true we didn't have a free market before the ACA and it's true we don't have one now. But there is no way a free market would solve the problem of the remaining uninsured in this country.

4. Trump wants to save Medicare and Medicaid.
He wants to do it by growing the economy. That's about all he says, although he has now added his intention to block grant Medicaid to the States.

5. Trump believes insurance companies have too much political power and he has occasionally mentioned a need to negotiate more toughly with pharmaceutical companies over drug prices.
We can probably all agree with this point. Most Republican candidates run away from a discussion of more government power to negotiate drug prices, but maybe the best negotiator of all times could pull something off. Not surprisingly, his intention to negotiate hard with drug companies has dropped out of his conversation.

Can candidate Donald Trump get away with claiming he knows more about health care than anyone? Of course not. In a debate with Hillary Clinton, who really does know more about health care than any of the candidates, his ignorance would be revealed for all to see. What we do know about Donald Trump -- is that he doesn't know much about health care at all.