US President Donald Trump walks after arriving on Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, April 28, 2017.
SAUL LOEB

Asked about health care, Trump trips over his own ignorance

Updated
Donald Trump recently noted that he’s been working on health care for most of his presidency, which is true to the extent that he’s tried to push a bill through Congress. But what Trump hasn’t done is learn anything about the issue, the debate, or the legislation he’s eager to sign.

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Yesterday, for example, the president appeared on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” and host John Dickerson did his best to ask Trump to explain the plan the White House is championing, with a particular emphasis on one of its most controversial provisions. The president argued:
“Pre-existing conditions are in the bill. And I just watched another network than yours, and they were saying, ‘Pre-existing is not covered.’ Pre-existing conditions are in the bill. And I mandate it. I said, ‘Has to be.’”
When Dickerson pressed Trump on whether he’s prepared to “guarantee” protections to those with pre-existing conditions, the president replied, “We actually have – we actually have a clause that guarantees.”

There is no such clause. The Republican bill guts benefits for consumers with pre-existing conditions, clearing the way for states to do the exact opposite of what Trump said yesterday. (GOP leaders have been reduced to telling worried lawmakers that most states won’t take advantage of the option, but under the Republican blueprint, the financial pressure on states to roll back protections like these would be significant.)

Trump, in other words, is pushing for legislation he hasn’t read and doesn’t understand – which was a problem in March, when the president’s ignorance was so profound he couldn’t even negotiate with lawmakers, and it’s just as glaring a problem now.

Trump, making up nonsense as he went along, went on to say in the same interview that the GOP bill has been “totally fixed,” adding, “I’ll tell you who doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions. Obamacare. You know why? It’s dead.”

Just so everyone’s clear, the president has no idea what he’s saying, which is a fairly routine problem, but which is also a more serious matter when tens of millions of American families face dramatic consequences if Trump and his allies deliberately screw up the nation’s health care system.

It’s tempting to blame the White House staff for failing to keep the president informed about basic details, but ultimately, the responsibility lies with Trump himself to at least try reading a little.

Adding insult to injury, it’s not just the president. Mike Pence said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” yesterday that Republican policymakers are “keeping our promises to protect people who have pre-existing conditions.” I wish that were true, but it’s not.

And then there are the GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill trying to legislate. The L.A. Times reported last week:
“They’re not interested in how health policy actually works,” said one insurance company official, who asked not to be identified discussing conversations with GOP officials. “It’s incredibly frustrating.”

Another longtime healthcare lobbyist, who also did not want to be identified criticizing Republicans, said he’d never seen legislation developed with such disregard for expert input. “It is totally divorced from reality,” he said.
Trump tripped yesterday over his own ignorance, but when it comes Republicans and health care, much of the party is effectively illiterate when it comes to the substantive details.

Donald Trump, Health Care and Health Care Policy

Asked about health care, Trump trips over his own ignorance

Updated