Deciphering President Trump’s USA Today’s Op-ed Piece On Medicare

Donald Trump is pictured. | AP Photo
| Evan Vucci/AP Photo

There are tons of snippets being reported as to whether the news outlet, USA Today should have published the republican President Donald J. Trump’s op-ed piece on Medicare/ healthcare insurance. My thinking is USA today did all of us (non-Trumpian) a favor as now, we have his thinking on this subject in writing, proving that he knows virtually nothing about this subject matter; and the fact checkers could dissect it to educate the public.

As it turns out, the professional fact checkers went to work. They are detailing about how just about every sentence contains an error.

This is one of my favorite GOP talking points regarding republicans’ doomsday forecasts regarding the concept for’Medicare for all’ where the government would start rationing and telling the doctors how to treat their patients. Guess what? The health insurance companies are already doing this. Ask anyone diagnosed with an expensive illness like cancer, how they have to fight tooth and nail to obtain the kind of health care that the president takes for granted.

Photograph by Ron Sachs / dpa / AP

Here is the rest of the story…

On October 10, 2018, Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post penned the following fact check op-ed piece, “Fact-checking President Trump’s USA Today op-ed on ‘Medicare-for-All’

 Excerpts:

“President Trump wrote an opinion article for USA Today on Oct. 10 regarding proposals to expand Medicare to all Americans — known as Medicare-for-All — in which almost every sentence contained a misleading statement or a falsehood.”

“Many of these are claims we have already debunked. Presumably, the president is aware of our fact checks — he even links to two — but chose to ignore the facts in service of a campaign-style op-ed. Medicare-for-All is a complex subject, and serious questions could be raised about the cost and how a transition from today’s health-care system would be financed. Trump correctly notes that studies have estimated that the program — under the version promoted by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) — would add $36 trillion in costs to the federal government over 10 years.”

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But this is not a serious effort to debate the issue. So as a reader service, we offer a guide through Trump’s rhetoric.

“Throughout the year, we have seen Democrats across the country uniting around a new legislative proposal that would end Medicare as we know it and take away benefits that seniors have paid for their entire lives.”

“Sanders has unveiled a plan he calls “Medicare-for-all.” Essentially, it is a single-payer plan. That means all of the bills would be paid by one entity — the federal government — in contrast to the hodgepodge health-care system now in place. Medicare, the health care system for the elderly and disabled, is a federal single-payer plan, but people under 65 get insurance from employers, through the individual market (Obamacare) or through Medicaid, the federal-state health system for the poor. Private health insurance plans, such as those offered through employers, would be eliminated, according to the Congressional Research Service.”

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“Sanders says he would first improve Medicare for seniors and the disabled by eliminating deductibles and covering dental, vision and hearing aids, which are not covered under current law. Then, over the course of four years, the eligibility age would be lowered in stages until every American was covered.”

“On paper at least, the Sanders plan would improve benefits for seniors, not take them away.”

“There are several other versions, including proposals more limited in scope (such as “Medicare-X”) that would simply offer a Medicare option as a buy-in. The Kaiser Family Foundation has a useful guide to the differences.”

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“As a candidate, I promised that we would protect coverage for patients with pre-existing conditions and create new health care insurance options that would lower premiums. I have kept that promise, and we are now seeing health insurance premiums coming down.”

“Trump made this promise, but broke it. He supported Republican plans that would have weakened protections for individuals with preexisting conditions. His administration also has refused to defend the Affordable Care Act against a lawsuit that would undermine those protections. In effect, the Trump administration no longer supports a provision of the ACA, a.k.a. Obamacare, that makes it possible for people to buy insurance if they have preexisting health conditions. (We labeled this as a flip-flop.)”

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“As for premiums, they have continued to increase on average, just at a lower rate than in the past. But experts say that without Trump’s moves to weaken the Affordable Care Act, premiums would be even lower in many states.”

“I also made a solemn promise to our great seniors to protect Medicare. That is why I am fighting so hard against the Democrats’ plan that would eviscerate Medicare.”

“Under Trump, the date for when the Medicare Hospital Insurance (Part A) trust fund will be depleted keeps advancing. The current projection is 2026, three years earlier than the projection a year earlier.”

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“Part A is financed mainly through payroll taxes of 1.45 percent on earnings paid both by workers and employers; self-employed people pay 2.9 percent. The money raised is then credited to a pay-as-you-go trust fund, which uses the revenue raised to pay the benefits of Medicare beneficiaries.”

“With the baby-boom generation retiring at a rate of 10,000 people per day, that puts pressure on the long-term financing of the program because fewer workers will be supporting more retirees. If the trust fund is depleted, that means the government would not be able to cover 100 percent of estimated expenses. Yet because of Trump’s tax cut, the budget deficit is soaring even as the economy is booming, in contrast to previous periods of under-4-percent unemployment. That leaves the government less prepared to deal with the consequences of baby-boom retirements.”

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“Democrats have already harmed seniors by slashing Medicare by more than $800 billion over 10 years to pay for Obamacare.”

“Trump resurrects a misleading Republican talking point from the 2012 election.”

“The Affordable Care Act actually strengthened the near-term outlook of the Part A trust fund. The law includes a 0.9 percent payroll tax that hits the wages and self-employment income of wealthier Americans — above $250,000 per couple or $200,000 for a single taxpayer. That was estimated to raise an additional $63 billion for the Part A trust fund between 2010 and 2019. The law also was estimated to cut expenses, including $162 billion in productivity adjustments to provider payments and $86 billion in reduced payments to Medicare Advantage plans. The net result was that the “insolvency” date was extended by 12 years.”

“In other words, the savings that Trump complains about mostly were wrung from health-care providers, not Medicare beneficiaries — who, as a result of the health care law, ended up with new benefits for preventive care and prescription drugs.”

“Moreover, the $800 billion in Medicare reductions in the ACA that Trump complains about are the law of the land. In fact, Republicans in Congress and the Trump administration in their budget plans have pocketed virtually all those savings — and sought even more reductions in Medicare spending on top of that. Trump proposed $350 billion in net Medicare cuts in his budget — and there were about $540 billion in Medicare cuts assumed in the House GOP budget plan.”

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“The Democrats’ plan means that after a life of hard work and sacrifice, seniors would no longer be able to depend on the benefits they were promised.”

“As noted, the Sanders plan in theory would expand benefits for seniors.”

“The Democratic plan would inevitably lead to the massive rationing of health care. Doctors and hospitals would be put out of business. Seniors would lose access to their favorite doctors. There would be long wait lines for appointments and procedures. Previously covered care would effectively be denied.”

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“This is a scare scenario. Obviously, a transition to single-payer health care would lead to upheaval and uncertainty since it would encompass the entire health care system, not just the small piece covered by Obamacare. But other countries appear to manage with single-payer systems, at lower costs than the United States. Trump’s vision of what would happen under single-payer echoes the fears evoked by opponents of Medicare in the 1960s and Obamacare in 2010. So there’s a Chicken-Little feel to this language.”

Link to rest of the analysis: The Washington Post’s fact check on president’s op-ed piece on Medicare 

See:  Washington Post fact-check on president’s flip-flop on pre-existing conditions

5 comments

    • Dear Suzanne,

      I am seeing more political ads by democratic super pacs focusing on these healthcare issues as this is the #1 concern by most American voters. This is where the GOP are very vulnerable as they have been tone deaf on this.

      Thanks a million times over for all your support and for this reblog.

      Hugs, Gronda

      Like

  1. Gronda, as you note the fact checkers had a field day with this. While Medicaid is complex and unwieldy as it is administered by the states, Medicare works pretty well and avoids the insurance company profit charges.

    As a former actuary, benefits consultant and benefits manager for a Fortune 500 company, I have advocated several improvements to the ACA. One of those would be to extend Medicare to those who retire at an earlier age, such as 55, 60 or 62. This would lower Medicare premiums because of the improved risk from younger people (Trump’s point misses the mark). It also would lower premiums for the exchanges by taking the higher risk from those plans. I advocated this stair step approach as it will let us measure its veracity.

    Further, since some areas have only one choice, I suggest either opening Medicaid to those counties or offering Medicare to non-retirees for competitive reasons. Like with the above, we could then measure the veracity of that approach.

    The ACA is complex and needs improvements with a data-driven mindset. What Republicans posed last year in several versions were absolutely horrible, but they almost passed. What also frustrates me is how Republicans fail to tell people their active role to sabatoge the ACA making premiums higher than they otherwise would have been. Defunding adverse risk subsidies by 89% to insurance companies caused premiums to go up. Trump’s reneging on a commitment last year to repay insurers for foregoing deductibles, co-pays to people making less than 2 1/2 X the poverty level raised premiums ( he then lied about the impact). These measure screwed Americans to make the ACA fail. It is that simple. Keith

    Liked by 3 people

    • Dear Keith,

      Thanks for sharing your expertise in this area. Its too bad that President Trump and his GOP cronies hadn’t listened to experts like you and/ or at least listened to their constituents.

      But for them to keep lying about healthcare is galling

      There’s a lot of discussion as to how to push back to these outright lies. I say fight hard, push back immediately but with facts. Call out the president’s op-ed as a series of lies, not fact and evidence based. But in my mind, there is no need to call him names or to stoop to his level.

      Recently, there was a pundit who described President Trump as a beat up jalopy who doesn’t mind getting a few dings. But if his opponent wants to keep looking new and in good repair, he/ she can’t afford all the added dings which puts this party at a disadvantage.

      For some reason, I see no good justification for going into the mud with the Trumpians. That doesn’t mean that Democrats don’t get aggressive in pushing back, presenting their case, demonstrating with facts why and how the other party is harming every day Americans. We want to give voters an option to vote for candidates who represent decency/ and who want to make policies based on science, facts, evidence, and by bringing Americans together to solve real problems.

      Hugs, Gronda

      Liked by 2 people

      • Gronda, I think push back with the facts is the best way. Citing sources from Bob Woodward’s book “Fear,” Trump does not care to know details. He would prefer a mud fight, which he is skilled at. Yet, he detests looking bad.

        An example would be Trump’s knowledge of healthcare is not as fluent as he portrays. He confused his own company’s benefits with the ACA. He once touted national healthcare, which Medicare-for-all would be. Last year he eliminated paying insurance companies for taking care of co-pays and deductibles for low income folks. He said that would only affect insurer profits – that was blatantly not true as it increased premiums for all and increased the deficit by $10 billion as subsidies went up with premiums. Keith

        Liked by 3 people

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