The Health Care Message Voters Need to Hear on the Debate Stage

A collage of photographs of Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, and Joe Biden

The Democratic candidates for president have another chance at tonight’s debate to do what should have happened long ago — clearly and strongly let the American people know that the real enemy of affordable quality health care is Donald Trump. The last Democratic debate occurred one day after two Republican judges sided with Donald Trump’s lawsuit to overturn the entire Affordable Care Act. Yet if you were a voter watching the debate you never would have known that 135 million Americans were a step closer to losing protections for pre-existing conditions or that 20 million Americans could completely lose their health care coverage.

Today’s debate occurs one day after President Trump tweeted perhaps his biggest health care lie of all — claiming he was the one who “saved” protections for pre-existing conditions despite his repeated attempts to eliminate these protections and his mockery of the late Senator John McCain for the vote that helped save them on the Senate floor.

As a debate primer, here are the ten reasons why Donald Trump is the true enemy of health care in America. We hope voters hear about some of them tonight.

1. Trump Won’t Stop Trying To Repeal Our Health Care Law.

Trump notoriously tried and failed multiple times to repeal the Affordable Care Act. All of the repeal bills that went through Congress would have caused millions of Americans to lose their health coverage and raised premiums by double digits for millions more. They would have ended Medicaid as we know it, putting the care of children, seniors and people with disabilities at risk.

2. Trump Is All-In On The Texas Lawsuit, Threatening Health Care For Millions.

After failing to repeal the health care law, Trump took his war on America’s health care to a new level and went to court seeking to strike down the entire Affordable Care Act–including protections for pre-existing conditions. If President Trump and Republicans have their way, 20 million Americans will lose their insurance coverage, 135 million Americans with pre-existing conditions will be stripped of their protections, and costs will go up for millions.

3. Trump Continues To Stand With Big Pharma As Drug Prices Have Soared.

Donald Trump promised that he would lower drug costs, but instead he gave drug companies billions in tax breaks. The year after the tax bill passed, the largest drug companies made $50 billion in profits and subsequently used their savings to invest billions more in stock buybacks for their shareholders. Meanwhile, more than 3,400 drugs saw price increases in the first half of 2019 alone. Trump has rejected commonsense reforms, like giving Medicare the power to negotiate for lower prices.

4. Trump Has Declared War On Medicaid.

Between encouraging states to impose red tape and paperwork requirements and championing work requirements, the Trump administration has worked tirelessly to dismantle Medicaid. After Arkansas imposed the nation’s first so-called work requirements program, more than 18,000 residents lost Medicaid coverage. While these state efforts have been blocked by a federal judge several times, the Trump administration keeps fighting to impose work reporting requirements in Medicaid, appealing federal court rulings that blocked such requirements because they are illegal. Meanwhile, a recent GAO report found that the administrative costs to implement the failed work requirement programs in five states topped $400 million.

5. At Least Two Million People Have Lost Coverage Under Trump.

Census data revealed the uninsured rate rose for the first time since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The rate increased from 7.9% in 2017 to 8.5% in 2018, or by approximately 2 million people. More than one million children lost Medicaid coverage between 2017 and 2019. Health care experts pointed to a “chilling effect” from Trump-backed policies, including Medicaid work requirements.

6. Trump’s Budget Would Have Slashed Medicare And Medicaid.

Donald Trump’s proposed federal budget in 2019 would cut funding for Medicare by more than $800 billion and repeal the ACA. Additionally, the budget would cut $1.5 trillion from Medicaid, which would result in millions of people losing health coverage, cuts to nursing home care, and cuts to care for children with severe disabilities.

7. The Trump Tax Scam Gave Hundreds of Billions to Drug and Insurance Companies with Soaring Profits While Further Eroding Access to Health Care.

Trump signed into law a Tax Bill that, among other things, repealed a key provision of the Affordable Care Act that required most people to have health coverage and which is the basis of the Trump-Republican lawsuit seeking to overturn the health care law. Additionally, the repeal of the individual mandate contributed to thousands of dollars in excess premiums on the individual market in 2019.

8. Health Care Costs Have Skyrocketed Under Trump.

Under Donald Trump, health insurance costs have risen faster than people’s wages–to more than $20,000 per year for the average family, making it harder and harder for many Americans to get ahead.

9. Trump Cut Open Enrollment Funding, And Instead Funneled People Into Junk Plans That Do Not Include Protections For Pre-Existing Conditions.

In 2017, the Trump administration cut the outreach advertising budget for Open Enrollment by 90 percent, from $100 million to just $10 million – which resulted in as many as 1.1 million fewer people getting covered. The administration also slashed funding for non-profit health navigator groups, that help people shop for coverage, from $36 million to $10 million. CMS has encouraged groups to use the remaining funds to push people to sign up for junk plans that skirt important consumer protections.

10. Trump’s Policies Promote Discrimination Against Women, People Of Color, And LGBTQ Americans.

Since taking office, the Trump administration has taken multiple steps to make it harder for women, people of color, and LGBTQ Americans to access health care. For example, in August 2019, the Trump administration began enforcing a rule that bars certain federally-funded clinics from referring women for abortions. As a result, the nation’s largest recipient of Title X funds, Planned Parenthood, was forced to exit the program, losing $60 million in funding previously used to provide birth control and reproductive health care services for low-income women. Moreover, experts point to Trump’s immigration policies for having deterred many Latino families from getting coverage, resulting in steep coverage losses, especially for children. Trump has also tried to make it easier for transgender Americans to be discriminated against in health care settings and allow providers’ to refuse patient care on the basis of the provider’s personal beliefs, a move likely to undermine access to care for patients who already face health care disparities.

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