Donald Trump's insurance plan: Miracle worker or fool? | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Donald Trump's insurance plan: Miracle worker or fool?

Posted By on Tue, Jan 17, 2017 at 12:08 PM

click to enlarge TRUMP: Miracle worker?
  • TRUMP: Miracle worker?
Ernest Dumas beholds Donald Trump's promise this week of universal health coverage at a better cost.

The question: Is Trump a miracle worker, fool or just another politician with empty promises?

Soon enough, we'll have some evidence to work with. He's produced none yet of his plan.

But, Dumas says, this is one case we should hope the new president delivers.

BECAUSE: Congressional Budget Office said Obamacare repeal could cost 18 million first year, rising to 32 million, and premium costs would explode.

Here's Dumas weekly column for the Times.

By Ernest Dumas

When President-elect Trump announced that he would in a few days force Congress to enact comprehensive health insurance for everyone, poor or rich, that provides better and cheaper care than they've ever gotten, you must wonder whether this guy is a miracle worker or a fool.

A third posit is that he is just another politician, a supplicant who makes promises that he doesn't expect to deliver. But most Americans, admirers and enemies alike of the old billionaire TV idol, don't count Trump as just another politician. Even at their lowest, politicians are clinical pragmatists. Pragmatists don't promise to instantly reshape global relationships, end Middle Eastern terrorism, make government efficient, get the economy roaring so everyone has a great job with a good income, build a giant wall across the continent at no cost to taxpayers and either co-opt the country's enemies into friendship or smash them. And, now, fulfill the dream of presidents since Theodore Roosevelt to deliver great medical care, as a right, to every American.

So it's time to examine the first two options, although inaugural week is not the best time frame. Health insurance is the perfect model for the study because Trump promised to get it done in the first days of the new Republican government.

In an interview with the Washington Post, Trump returned to his seminal policy stand, universal health insurance, although this time he said it would not be a single-payer system like Medicare but, like Obamacare, an expansion of the private insurance market. During the campaign, he said Obamacare would be repealed but he stumbled around on its replacement by mentioning some empty Republican ideas like peddling insurance across state lines. Republican leaders have talked about just assuring "access" to insurance and care, not seeing that people had a way to pay for it.

No, Trump said, his secret plan sees to it that the poorest person can pay for it and that the policies will provide wider coverage with much lower premiums, deductibles and copays, the chief complaint about Obamacare.

"We're going to have insurance for everybody," he said. Alluding to the prevailing Republican philosophy, he added: "There was a philosophy in some circles that if you can't pay for it, you don't get it. That's not going to happen with us." Under Trumpcare, people "can expect to have great health care . . . in a much simplified form—much less expensive and much better."

Obamacare has insured 20 million more Americans, leaving only 9 percent of U.S. citizens uninsured. Trumpcare would pick up that 9 percent.

But that is a mathematical and fiscal impossibility unless it does one of two things. Either the government subsidizes private insurance coverage with hundreds of billions of dollars, which Obamacare would achieve with the same remedy, or it imposes by law draconian price ceilings on doctors, hospitals, drugs and insurers. Talk about government strangling the free market. You couldn't get that done even with an overwhelmingly Democratic Congress. And if the Republicans are dedicated to one principle it is to slash, not raise, domestic spending.

But Trump said Congress will be no barrier and its leaders are on board with his plan. It will pass within days, maybe even the same hour that the Affordable Care Act is repealed, he said. He has insisted, as have many congressional Republicans, that the current law will not be repealed until a good replacement that covers those 20 million is pretty well in place.
That brings us to the second explanation, which is that Donald Trump is clueless about how government works. He provided ample evidence on almost every issue that has arisen. He never evinced any knowledge of the Affordable Care Act, except that the plans had high premiums, deductibles or copays. Except to hire a cagey tax lawyer to evade income taxes for most of his life and pleading with Congress once to restore the tax break for developers that Ronald Reagan took away in 1986, Trump never had a direct involvement in government at any level, which was part of his appeal. We are about to see the downside of that naïveté and we will be fortunate if it is not calamitous.

For Trump, there is a fourth caveat, which his campaign and transition aides invoke every day: Don't take what he says literally. Things that are not true or simply absurd are not really lies as we know them but only talking points, opening bids, playful rhetoric or just jokes that sound serious to people who aren't on his wavelength.

The likeliest scenario is that Congress will repeal Obamacare, some of it like the individual mandate and taxes on millionaires to occur immediately, which will undermine the market and send it crashing in 2018, so the millions deprived of insurance coverage can blame the black man and not Congress and the president that did not produce the coverage he promised.

For the moment, let's pray for the miracle-man outcome.

Tags: , , ,


Comments (10)

Showing 1-10 of 10

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-10 of 10

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Tom Cotton's influence on Trump's new security chief

    U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton is getting credit for pushing President Donald Trump to select Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster as his national security adviser, Politico reports.
    • Feb 21, 2017
  • Use of solar on the rise in Arkansas

    With a pivotal ruling expected any day now from the Public Service Commission, Kyle Massey at Arkansas Business reports on the increase in Arkansans adding solar generation units on their homes and business.
    • Apr 13, 2018
  • Campus gun bill clears committee

    The so-called compromise amendment that will allow anyone 25 or older with a training certificate carry a concealed weapon on public college campuses was approved in a Senate committee this afternoon.
    • Feb 21, 2017


Most Viewed

  • Pine Bluff native wages war on fraternity culture

    Bloomberg has an interesting feature on Deborah Dunklin Tipton of Memphis, a native of Pine Bluff and heiress to an Arkansas agricultural fortune, who's put her money to work investigating the death of her son Robert in 2012 of what's been ruled an accidental drug overdose following fraternity hazing at High Point University in North Carolina.
  • Breaking: Ken Starr doesn't like the Clintons. Look who's talking about morality

    Surprise. Former Whitewater persecutor Kenneth Starr's new book trashes Bill and Hillary Clinton, as the Democrat-Gazette made clear this morning. You'd think Starr was some moral exemplar as he whines about his "persona non grata" status in Arkansas.
  • Judge denies Jon Woods' request to be free pending appeal UPDATE

    Judge Timothy Brooks has rejected former state Sen. Jon Woods' request that he be allowed to remain free pending appeal of his public corruption conviction to the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals. UPDATED with news on co-defendant Randell Shelton and a request for a trial delay by Jeremy Hutchinson in another public corruption case.
  • School superintendent Poore not registered to vote

    Blogger Russ Racop dug up a factoid of interest this week on Little Rock School Superintendent Mike Poore: He's not registered to vote in Pulaski County.
  • Judge strikes down Rogers' anti-panhandling ordinance

    The ACLU has won another lawsuit against an anti-panhandling ordinance, this time in Rogers.

Most Recent Comments


© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation