Yes, Trump has a health care plan — he has been implementing it
Joe Biden’s assertion during Tuesday’s debate that President Trump does not have a health care plan is flat out false.
Unfortunately, the mainstream news media’s fact checkers probably won’t call him out on it, and not just because of their normal anti-Trump bias. In fact, there is a widespread misunderstanding of what the president has done in health care and how it all fits together.
Back in 2018, we described President Trump’s “1,000 step progress on health reform,” noting that instead of opting to pass one giant, comprehensive health care bill, the president was delivering a series of small but significant reforms to cumulatively take us to a much better destination.
That destination was outlined in 2017 by the administration in a 124-page Health and Human Services document, “Reforming America’s Healthcare System Through Choice and Competition.” The document is a distillation of the dysfunction of our health care system, much of which ObamaCare made worse. It also paints a picture of an alternative model — one that puts patients before insurance companies or government bureaucrats and delivers better care and coverage at lower costs.
Everything that President Trump has done in health care since then has been consistent with the vision laid out in the document. The challenge for the news media, and even some of the president’s supporters, has been an issue of attention span — a tendency to miss the forest for the trees.
Even when there is coverage of one of the president’s actions on health care, it is viewed in isolation rather than as another step towards the destination described in 2017.
There was a moment during his health care speech in Charlotte, N.C., last Thursday, however, when President Trump brought everything into focus to form a complete picture. He broke from his prepared remarks to read a partial list of what his administration has done on health care in three-and-a-half years. We are including the list here to show how methodical and consistent his actions have been in implementing his vision of reforming America’s health care system with choice and competition:
- Repealed the individual mandate;
- Eliminated ObamaCare’s health insurance, medical device and “Cadillac plan” taxes;
- Expanded association health plans;
- Increased availability usefulness of short-term, limited-duration plans;
- Expanded health reimbursement arrangements to allow employers to help pay for their employees’ individual health plan premiums with pre-tax funds;
- Lowered prescription drug prices for the first time in 50 years;
- Approved a record number of generic drugs, saving Americans $2.6 billion in the first 18 months of the administration alone;
- Signed legislation banning pharmacy gag clauses;
- Took executive action to ensure price transparency in health care;
- Lowered Medicare Advantage premiums considerably — by as much as 40 percent in some states — while modernizing the program with new benefits and options;
- Improved kidney care with more transplants and better treatment;
- Lowered the price of insulin for those on Medicare;
- Invested in advances in genetic therapy for sickle cell disease;
- Launched a $500 million initiative to find cures for childhood cancers;
- Addressed the opioid crisis by expanding access to medication-assisted treatment and lifesaving naloxone, reduced opioid prescriptions by 35 percent, and launched findtreatment.gov to help those addicted;
- Passed Right To Try to give critically ill patients access to lifesaving cures that haven’t been approved by the Food and Drug Administration;
- Launched an initiative to end HIV/AIDS in America;
- Expanded access to telehealth, especially in rural and underserved areas;
- Signed historic legislation, the VA Mission Act, to replace the troubled Veterans Choice Program;
- Launched a 24-hour suicide hotline for veterans; and
- Signed the largest-ever increase in child care development block grants.
These were the items he read. As he noted, it was a partial list. We would add a few more:
- Allowed more health expenses from health savings accounts;
- Stabilized the ObamaCare individual markets, bringing more plans to more people; and
- Gave states more flexibility to run their individual markets.
President Trump’s latest executive actions include orders that would go a long way toward solving the surprise billing problem, saving more money on drugs, and providing additional certainty to those with pre-existing conditions that they will always be able to find affordable health coverage.
Even if you disagree with some of the steps taken — as we do with importing drugs — this is an impressive list of accomplishments and actions, all consistent with the vision his administration laid out three years ago. They reveal that — contrary to news media reports and Biden’s talking points — not only does President Trump have a health care plan, he has been successfully implementing it.
Thanks to his 1,000-step approach on health reform, we are on our way to a transparent, patient-focused health care system that delivers better care and coverage at lower costs.
Newt Gingrich is host of the Newt’s World podcast. A Republican, he was speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 1999. Follow him on Twitter @NewtGingrich. His latest book is “Collusion.”
Joe DeSantis is chief strategy officer at Gingrich 360 and leads the organization’s health care strategic initiatives and consulting. Gingrich 360 advises various companies and organizations in the health care industry.
Editor’s note: This article was updated after publication to clarify that President Trump signed the VA Mission Act to replace the troubled Veterans Choice Program.