Over the weekend, Donald Trump’s mouth may have written some checks that his ass can’t cash, which which may seriously endanger the GOP’s attempts to repeal Obamacare. Donald Trump promises in an interview with The Washington Post “insurance for everybody” and with “much lower deductibles.
In other words, Donald Trump just promised America universal healthcare, which is far more ambitious than even the Affordable Care Act could promise. The only problem is: That’s not what the Republicans want.
In reality, Donald Trump was likely engaging in some more of his hyperbole, but as will find out when he moves from campaigning-mode to governing mode, words matter. In this case, he’s promised “insurance for everybody” with “much lower deductibles” and, as Paul Waldman at WashPo notes, if he or the Republicans fail to offer any plan that meets that threshold, the Democrats are going to remind them of that.
Over and over and over and over.
Though Donald Trump offered no specifics on his healthcare proposal, his spokesperson Sean Spicer offered some vague assurances which sought to both walk back Trump’s statements while not completely breaking with his promise. He suggested that the Trump administration would aim “to get insurance for everybody through marketplace solutions, through bringing costs down, through negotiating with pharmaceutical companies, allowing competition over state lines.”
That’s not the same as providing “health insurance for everyone.” In fact, that plan sounds similar to the plan of Trump’s nominee for Health and Human Services, Tom Price, which is to basically take advantage of health savings accounts, tax deductions for healthcare premiums, increased competition among insurance companies, and negotiation with pharmaceutical companies to drive down costs. This plan would not cover pre-existing conditions, nor would it allow people under the age of 26 to stay on their parent’s health plans, two of the most popular components of Obamacare.
Moreover, while Republican plan may make health insurance more affordable for middle-class and wealthy families and for healthy people, it’s likely to hurt poor people the most, despite Trump’s assurances that “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.”
Of course, we still haven’t seen the details, and there’s always the possibility that Donald Trump pulls a magic rabbit out of his hat, or completely goes against the GOP philosophy on healthcare and demands real universal coverage. In either respect, Trump has clearly dug his party into a deep hole. Either he has developed a plan that goes against GOP policies, or he’s given the Democrats a weapon to use against the GOP in the healthcare debate for months to come: “But you promised health insurance for everyone, and anything less than that is not acceptable!”
Ultimately, if words do still carry any meaning at all, it could be a deathblow for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.