After promising to unveil a health care plan, Trump delivers a joke

Ten weeks after promising he'd sign a "full and complete" health care plan, the emperor with no clothes made clear he's the president with no plan.
Image: Donald Trump
President Donald Trump arrives to deliver remarks on healthcare at Charlotte Douglas International Airport on Sept. 24, 2020, in Charlotte, N.C.Evan Vucci / AP

During his remarks on health care policy yesterday, Donald Trump used the word "plan" 39 times. Indeed, the point of the president's plan was to ostensibly unveil a new governing blueprint, which the White House has labeled the "America First Health Care Plan."

The problem, however, is that there's still no actual plan. What Trump unveiled are two executive orders that literally don't do anything.

President Donald Trump announced two new health care executive orders Thursday on protecting pre-existing conditions and preventing surprise billing as the president seeks to shore up his support on an issue that remains top of mind to voters amid to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The actions, however, have minimal impact.

To be sure, preventing surprise billing is a worthwhile goal with bipartisan support, but to address the issue, policymakers will need legislative solutions, not a hollow press release from the White House with no force of law.

Similarly, protecting Americans with pre-existing conditions is clearly worthwhile, but (a) Trump signing an executive order to create a benefit that already exists in the Affordable Care Act is ridiculous; and (b) the president is currently fighting to take these protections away through a case at the Supreme Court.

This isn't governing; this is a joke masquerading as policy.

At one point during his event in North Carolina yesterday, the Republican declared, "The historic action I'm taking today includes the first-ever executive order to affirm it is the official policy of the United States government to protect patients with pre-existing conditions. This is affirmed, signed, and done so we can put that to rest."

Except, that's not how reality works. I could sign an executive order to affirm that it is the official policy of my household that I have a full head of hair, but it wouldn't magically fill in my bald spot. Similarly, Trump can't simply assert a health care benefit by decree. If that were an option, other presidents would've taken such a step years ago.

Americans need to realize that if the Republican Party's lawsuit succeeds in tearing down the nation's health care system, the protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions will disappear. The president's executive order on the matter will have literally no value or meaning. It wouldn't put the matter "to rest"; it would do the exact opposite.

The HuffPost's Jeffrey Young had a terrific summary of yesterday's unveiling, explaining that the president "really, really wants to fool voters into thinking he has a plan to make the health care system great again. But he really, really doesn't."

Slogans, lies and exaggerations aren't policies. Trump pitched his phantom plan by saying it rests on three pillars: "more choice," "lower costs," and "better care," and that it would "put patients first." Those focus-group-tested slogans sound great! Except they're hogwash. The truth is that, like in so many other areas, Trump doesn't want to do the work.

As a recently published book makes clear, he never does.

On the surface, the fact that Donald Trump still doesn't have a health care plan may seem predictable. After all, he's never had a plan, so this is just a continuation of the status quo.

But three problems linger. First, the whole point of yesterday's event was to unveil a plan that, in reality, does not exist.

Second, since Trump, his party, and his appointed Supreme Court justices may soon destroy their own country's health care system, the fact that the president still isn't prepared to do any actual work on health care policy makes it much more likely that millions of American families will suffer devastating consequences.

And third, in the days, weeks, months, and years leading up to yesterday's event, Trump and his team assured us that the imaginary plan is quite real. As regular readers know, the Republican has spent literally years telling Americans he has a terrific health care plan, which will deliver better results at a lower cost, and this reform miracle is nearly ready for its unveiling.

Indeed, as recently as last week, the president went so far as to boast, in reference to his non-existent health care plan, "I have it all ready. I have it all ready.... I have it all ready." The president used similar rhetoric two months ago, promising Fox News he'd "sign" a "full and complete" health care plan "within two weeks."

Ten weeks later, the emperor with no clothes effectively confessed that he's the president with no plan.