Embattled Trump Reneges on Health Vow

President Trump promised health insurance for all, but – now dependent on the political protection of House Speaker Paul Ryan – he is supporting a plan that will push millions outside the system, writes Michael Winship.

By Michael Winship

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Donald Trump still insists he’s going to Make America Great Again! Mind you, it won’t be a healthy or vigorous America — in fact, it will be coughing and wheezing to the grave, but boy, will it be great!

President Trump addressing a joint session of Congress on Feb. 28, 2017. (Screen shot from Whitehouse.gov)

If you ever needed further evidence that Trump doesn’t give a single good goddamn about the people who elected him, just look at his treacherous turnabout on health care. This Republican “repeal and replace” bill stinks on so many levels I’m tempted to say it should be taken far out to sea and dumped into the deepest depths of the Mariana Trench but I have too much regard for marine life, even the kind with the big googly eyes and the really scary teeth.

Remember that Trump was the carnival barker who declared during the campaign, “I am going to take care of everybody. I don’t care if it costs me votes or not. Everybody’s going to be taken care of much better than they’re taken care of now.” And right before his inauguration he told The Washington Post, “We’re going to have insurance for everybody. 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.”

Then along comes the proposed Republican bill, which over a decade, according to the now-famous report from the Congressional Budget Office, would see 24 million fewer Americans with coverage, doubling the number of uninsured. Trump’s own supporters would take it on the chin for what he tweeted is “our wonderful new health care bill.”

According to John McCormick at Bloomberg News: “Counties that backed him would get less than a third of the relief that would go to counties where Hillary Clinton won. The two individual tax cuts contained in the Republican plan to replace Obamacare apply only to high-earning workers and investors, roughly those with incomes of at least $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for married couples.”

And remember all that nonsense about Obamacare’s “death panels,” a falsehood so rotten to the core it was declared PolitiFact’s 2009 Lie of the Year? Well, this Republican bill actually would kill people. Those older would pay more than the young, it would strip Planned Parenthood of funding and Medicaid programs would be slashed. It would eliminate money for the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which provides epidemiology, immunization and health-screening programs. And there would be no mandate that employers with 50 employees or more provide coverage.

Julia Belluz at Vox reports on:“[V]ery high-quality studies on the impacts of health insurance on mortality, which come to some pretty clear estimates. This research suggests that we would see more than 24,000 extra deaths per year in the US if 20 million people lost their coverage. Again, 20 million is less than the 24 million the CBO thinks will lose insurance by 2026. So the death toll from an Obamacare repeal and replacement could be even higher.”

Ignoring the Needy

Notice that Trump has barely lifted a finger to assist those who need genuine reform that would bring quality care to all, the kind of help he promised as a candidate. Instead, he has directed his energies at helping Speaker Paul Ryan win over right-wing House members by promising to make the bill even crueler to those who need health care the most.

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin

Take a look at this statement issued by tea partier and Alabama Republican Rep. Robert Aderholt after meeting with Trump on Friday, a statement so mind-boggling it’s worth quoting in full:

“President Trump called me to the Oval Office this morning to discuss the American Healthcare Act, because of his understanding that I could not support the current language of the bill. I expressed to the president my concern around the treatment of older, poorer Americans in states like Alabama. I reminded him that he received overwhelming support from Alabama’s voters.

“The president listened to the fact that a 64-year-old person living near the poverty line was going to see their insurance premiums go up from $1,700 to $14,600 per year. The president looked me in the eye and said, ‘These are my people and I will not let them down. We will fix this for them.’

“I also asked the president point blank if this House bill was the one that he supported. He told me he supports it ‘1,000 percent.’ After receiving the president’s word that these concerns will be addressed, I changed my vote to yes.”

Can you believe it? Trump’s behind the bill 1,000 percent, the President claims, but don’t worry, we’ll fix it. It’s hard to decide which of the two men is behaving more hypocritically: Trump saying he won’t let the people down or Aderholt claiming to believe the President actually will keep his word. Each is endorsing a cutthroat scheme that will bring nothing but grief to the people but hundreds of billions in tax breaks to the wealthy and vast profits to the insurance industry.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: “The top 400 highest-income taxpayers — whose annual incomes average more than $300 million apiece — each would receive an average annual tax cut of about $7 million, we estimate from Internal Revenue Service (IRS) data.”

Andy Slavitt, who was President Obama’s acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services told The Washington Post, “This is a massive tax cut for unpopular industries and wealthy individuals. It is about cutting care for lower-income people, seniors, people with disabilities and kids to pay for the tax cut.”

This is, in the words of Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, “a dumpster fire of a bill that was written on the back of a napkin behind closed doors because Republicans know this is a disaster.” But thanks to ineptitude and an inchoate, ill-planned rush to pass the legislation, it looks as if the current Republican bill may be on its way to failure, if not in the House then in the Senate.

Lucky us — for now. But if the GOP and Trump White House do manage to force on us anything short of what’s really needed – single-payer, universal health care — we’re doomed to live in a nation the motto of which may no longer be “In God We Trust” but instead, “Die young and leave a good-looking corpse.”

Michael Winship is the Emmy Award-winning senior writer of Moyers & Company and BillMoyers.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MichaelWinship. [This article first appeared at http://billmoyers.com/story/trump-gop-prescription-america-dont-get-sick/]

27 comments for “Embattled Trump Reneges on Health Vow

  1. Curious
    March 27, 2017 at 10:25

    This piece is not a serious discussion of health care reform but a vendetta against Trump.
    Why does this otherwise excellent site continue to run articles by Winship who is a major purveyor of the New McCarthyism. Now he is using the word “treason” against Trump as he sides with witch hunter in chief Adam Schiff. See:

  2. Skip Scott
    March 22, 2017 at 08:44

    Maybe this is slightly off topic, but being a conspiracy theorist, I can’t help but wonder if there is some link between the current heroin/opioid crisis, and the burgeoning cost of the baby boomers coming into retirement. I am wondering if it is a way to thin the population to reduce future costs. The efforts to reign in prescription drug abuse are laughable, and how do you think all that heroin gets here all the way from Afghanistan? Every overdose victim is one less person collecting social security and using medicare. A very vicious but effective way to reduce costs.

    Nothing short of a pitch fork revolution will ever get us single-payer.

    • Sam F
      March 23, 2017 at 07:44

      Or anything else in the United Gangsters of America.

  3. Wm. Boyce
    March 22, 2017 at 01:14

    I don’t know why this would be a surprise to anybody. Mr. Trump is a real estate developer – a sociopathic liar who will say anything to “win.” It was all there before the election – all you Hillary-haters could have read Jane Mayer’s piece in the New Yorker about “the Art of the Deal” and it’s real writer, Tony Schwarz, being scared shitless that this unhinged crazy person might be elected president. Or you could have read Wayne Barretts work for the Village Voice. But no, you all live in a land of make believe. And good freakin’ luck with that.

    • backwardsevolution
      March 22, 2017 at 04:20

      “Hillary took the lead role in the White House’s efforts to pass a corporate-friendly version of “health reform.” Along with the big insurance companies the Clintons deceptively railed against, the “co-presidents” [Clintons] decided from the start to exclude the popular health care alternative – single payer – from the national health care “discussion.” (Obama would do the same thing in 2009.)

      “David, tell me something interesting.” That was then First Lady Hillary Clinton’s weary and exasperated response – as head of the White House’s health reform initiative – to Harvard medical professor David Himmelstein in 1993. Himmelstein was head of Physicians for a National Health Program. He had just told her about the remarkable possibilities of a comprehensive, single-payer “Canadian style” health plan, supported by more than two-thirds of the U.S. public. Beyond backing by a citizen super-majority, Himmelstein noted, single-payer would provide comprehensive coverage to the nation’s 40 million uninsured while retaining free choice in doctor selection and being certified by the Congressional Budget Office as “the most cost-effective plan on offer.”

      Anti-Progressive Neoliberal Trailblazers

      There was no dishonesty in Hillary’s dismissive remark. Consistent with her neoliberal DLC world view, she really was bored and irritated by Himmelstein’s pitch. What the First Lady advanced instead of the Canadian system that bored her was a hopelessly complex and secretly developed system called “managed competition.” (It would be left to Obama to get fake-progressive, corporate- and “market”-friendly health insurance reform done.)”


  4. Patrick Lucius
    March 22, 2017 at 00:52

    Another great motto is stay away from doctors and hospitals unless absolutely necessary. Which points to one reason why health care is so expensive–people are over-using medicines and health care, and doctors are assisting them. Way too many prescriptions in this country and way too many addictions to pain pills which of course cause further problems on down the road. Doctors are handing out antidepressants like candy, and the same goes for a lot of other “medicines.” People have always lived long lives without medicines–quit buying into the myths they haven’t. The main reason that average life spans have increased is that infant mortality rates have been greatly reduced. It’s simple math, do the research.

    • Skip Scott
      March 22, 2017 at 12:03

      I haven’t been to a doctor in over 10 years, except for the dentist and eye-doctor. I hope to make it another 10 years.
      Probably 75 percent of health care costs are related to poor life-style choices. Single payer funded by a sin tax on all the unhealthy crap people eat and drink is the answer. Diet and exercise!

  5. March 22, 2017 at 00:10

    Re: “…this Republican bill actually would kill people.”

  6. backwardsevolution
    March 21, 2017 at 23:39

    The insurance and pharmaceutical monopolies need to be split up. There should be no insurance companies between the government and the people. Single-payer healthcare needs to be implemented – OR – you can pay cash out of pocket for blood tests, doctor appointments, but purchase insurance purely for catastrophic illness. Costs would drop like a stone.

    • backwardsevolution
      March 21, 2017 at 23:42

      Why are there no protesters out protesting the high cost of healthcare? Why isn’t everybody out on the street demanding the elimination of the insurance companies? I mean, if it’s important – and it is – then why aren’t you out there?

      Help Trump help you! If the streets were filled with citizens demanding this, it would force the hands of the people who are trying to maintain the current system, albeit with a few tweaks. Instead, they’re out there protesting about a bathroom stall. Go figure.

  7. Brad Benson
    March 21, 2017 at 16:38

    Not worth reading. Trump has made NO moves whatsoever that would indicate that he has changed his mind on this subject.

    • backwardsevolution
      March 21, 2017 at 17:57

      Brad Benson – agreed. Trump told Tucker Carlson that if the bill ends up being disastrous for the people who elected him, he’s not going to sign it. Winship has an agenda.

  8. Kalen
    March 21, 2017 at 16:19

    Obamacare was most of all a huge subsidy, a huge bailout for dying Wall Street
    insurance industry (Health or not) that figured out that they cannot continue
    to raise premiums and cut covered services any more without collapsing their
    own insurance businesses while people were dropping unaffordable health insurance en mass and hence corporates needed government handouts for oligarchy coming mostly from national debt i.e. future taxes on middle class or what’s left of it.

    It was a insidious plan of corporate oligarchic welfare concocted by the party
    that took away most of the poor people welfare already twenty years ago.

    It was insidiously sold to the people on one and one only premise: Removal of openly discriminating, racist, classist, inhumane “preexisting conditions” clause that amounted to straight forward apartheid in America for which corporate executives should have been imprisoned for as violating US constitution and US law and not rewarded by Obama and his gang with massive profit from peoples pain, suffering and death.

    Obamacare did not change nothing else of significance since it allowed continuation of massive extortion of the suffering sick people hard earn money unabated leading to mass medical bankruptcies, unfettered, unlimited abhorrent practice that far exceeds any acceptable human conduct.

    And what Trump is talking about, is another lie, a huge bailout for “health
    insurance industry” scratch that “Death Industry” run by Wall street abhorrent oligarchy that is no longer able to gorge themselves on flesh and blood of remaining alive American premium/rate payers.

    The “Medicare for All” is the only solution for 99%.

  9. Bill Bodden
    March 21, 2017 at 13:45

    The Nordic nations are the most content, according to the World Happiness Report 2017 produced by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network – http://unsdsn.org/ – (SDSN), a global initiative launched by the United Nations in 2012. The top ten include (top to bottom) Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Finland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Sweden rounded out the top ten countries.

    They all have some form of single-payer health care.

  10. Dick Chicanery
    March 21, 2017 at 11:29

    Tax breaks for the incredibly wealthy? How many more tax breaks can they get? I do not believe that they pay any; and they have accumulated most of their wealth fraudulently anyway. Whether that is true or not, trump is the fault of those who did not bother to vote in opposition. trump won by forfeit. That is how you got w bush also. Americans on the whole are very childish and ignorant, and they have just the sort of leaders consistent with that confusion and fantastic thinking. You might as well call your country “Jonestown”.

  11. Brad Owen
    March 21, 2017 at 11:02

    I guess one can say that the R-Party outsider (Trump, being slowly roped in and readied for the branding iron: ER, for Establishment Republicans) got a Little farther than did the D-Party outsider (Sanders, shamefully cut down by the Obama/Clinton Gang, followed by their appeal to Establishment Republicans to join them, fellow war criminals, to uphold The Establishment). Meanwhile, well over 95 per cent of the voters had the opportunity to vote Jill Stein in the general, veto pen ready, to single-handedly stop the madness…the ONLY candidate on the ballot standing squarely for single-payer, not-for-profit, actual HEALTHCARE, not some insurance racketeer’s hollow promise that’s rescinded by some fine print, somewhere in the contract. Yuze guys blew it. Y’all blew it big time. Bernie, PLEASE raise your own Party Flag, I guaran-damn-tee it that tens of millions will rally ’round your flag.

    • March 21, 2017 at 11:35

      Too fearful to vote for the common good en mass.

      • Brad Owen
        March 21, 2017 at 13:08

        And too blind to see that, in Trump and Clinton, they were sailing right for Scylla and Charybdis, and a new course needed to be set, pronto. Not enough oars were pulling in a new direction for the Ship of State.

  12. Zachary Smith
    March 21, 2017 at 11:01

    But if the GOP and Trump White House do manage to force on us anything short of what’s really needed – single-payer, universal health care….

    Trump did indeed make a solid promise. And as Mr. Winship says, the solution is both simple and also a wonderful way to save money for everybody except the hope-you-die-soon insurance companies.

    There will be no possible excuse for Trump and his cohort of GOP buddies if crappy ObamaCare is dumped for something even worse.

  13. SteveK9
    March 21, 2017 at 10:56

    “But if the GOP and Trump White House do manage to force on us anything short of what’s really needed – single-payer, universal health care — we’re doomed to live in a nation the motto of which may no longer be “In God We Trust” but instead, “Die young and leave a good-looking corpse.”

    Obvious to anyone with a brain, and/or who has lived in a civilized country. But, how do we get it? It’s not like the Democrats would do it … been there. Obama never even opened his mouth about what he wanted, and he certainly did not argue strenuously for Medicare for all. In fact, he did nothing, which pretty much sums up his Presidency.

    We had a chance to at least have a discussion with Bernie Sanders, but the Democratic establishment took care of that. So, bitching about Trump now seems pathetic.

    The fault likes not in our stars, but in our selves. I don’t know when the American people are going to finally wise up … maybe never.

    • March 21, 2017 at 11:33

      O supported single payer before the election and crushed it after.

    • Phil Anderer
      March 21, 2017 at 11:59

      Aren’t there other forces at work? Many very powerful, influential, and extremely wealthy forces? Aren’t most of these forces what we might call Neo-liberals, neo-liberal economics? To suggest that Obama or anyone else in power has absolute authority to do what you wish they would do seems an incomplete assessment of these matters. I am not sure, but I believe that there is a system in place that is beyond anything any one president can affect, and that if any leader threatens the system, he will, like the people across Latin America, South-East Asia, Africa, and anywhere else that people seek self-determination, end up dead. Don’t you think? I do.

      • March 21, 2017 at 18:43

        Yes it is complicated. One is responsible for ones actions. If one appoints the most anti single payer Congressman to the committee chair of creating your health plan then one is responsible, puppet or danger not withstanding. If one sells out to Pharma and Insurance and blocks single payer advocates one is responsible. Why be president if your going to to be a fearful or bought puppet? Again one’s own choice. Citizens die every day for Empire yet the president is excused for being a wimp or bought charlatan. The standard for president must include courage integrity and wisdom. Otherwise you have the USA

      • Becky
        March 23, 2017 at 22:55

        How about those who ended up dead right here – President Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King?

    • Sam F
      March 21, 2017 at 13:16

      They are unwise primarily because they are deceived by oligarchy-controlled mass media. We can’t fix that because those are the tools of democracy needed for any change.

      Mass boycott of mass media is essential: let people know that you don’t watch TV at all, and hint that you don’t respect those who use one.

      Third parties with coalitions are essential. Stop voting Dem or Rep.

      Without that the US doomed to destroy itself in stages by recessions, embargoes, and widespread military defeats.

    • Sam F
      March 23, 2017 at 07:52

      Sure, elect Sanders as Hillary 2.0 and find out too late about his zionism through more great victories in the Mideast.

  14. Anon
    March 21, 2017 at 10:27

    How about this motto: “Die young and take as many Republicans with you as you can shoot”?

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