Douglas Andrews / Sep. 25, 2020

Trump Introduces an America First Healthcare Plan

The president takes on an issue that’s usually an electoral winner for Democrats.

For whatever reason, Democrats tend to win on healthcare. Check that — the reason is obvious: They win on healthcare as with everything else they win on because they give away more “free” stuff than do the Republicans. In Donald Trump, however, the spendthrift Left may have met its match.

The president unveiled his “America First” plan at a campaign rally in Charlotte, North Carolina, and this was his selling point: “better care, with more choice, at a much lower cost.” So what’s not to love?

Well, details, for one thing. As The Washington Free Beacon’s Charles Fain Lehman reports, “How the administration will achieve those goals, however, remains unclear. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar told reporters earlier in the day that the orders would make it the ‘policy of the United States’ that individuals will not be denied insurance coverage on the basis of preexisting conditions, and calls on Congress to produce legislation to that effect. Absent such legislation, Azar would be required to investigate regulatory alternatives — although what those would be remains undefined.”

The president’s accompanying executive order is more than 4,000 words long, but, as they say, When all’s been said and done, there’s usually been a lot more said than done.

Still, just a few weeks before the election, the president’s strategy is sound: Make sure the people going to the polls know that the GOP hasn’t forgotten about healthcare. After all, this single issue may have cost Republicans the House in the 2018 midterms — and with it, their legislative and investigative agenda.

“Health care defined the 2018 midterms,” writes Nick Corasaniti in The New York Times, “with Democrats across the spectrum crediting a consistent message about defending Obamacare, protecting people with pre-existing conditions and reining in prescription drug prices as the key to taking back the House of Representatives.”

Think about it: If voters two years ago had more confidence in the Republicans’ commitment to affordable healthcare, retiring House Speaker Paul Ryan might’ve been able to hand the gavel to fellow Republican Kevin McCarthy instead of Nancy Pelosi. And Adam Schiff might not be a household name. And Donald Trump might not have the blight of impeachment — however phony — on his presidential record.

Protecting folks with preexisting conditions has become a necessity thanks to ObamaCare, even if it means rendering the term “insurance” meaningless. Insurance, after all, is what we purchase to protect against something that may happen rather than something that’s already happened.

Reining in Big Pharma is another popular campaign theme, but here the president needs to watch his step. Price controls muck up the mechanism of supply and demand, they’re anathema to a free market, and they never work.

Perhaps the president’s best work in healthcare has been in the area of price transparency. Last year, he introduced sweeping transparency requirements across the industry, to the benefit of all Americans. Just as we know how much it costs to buy a car, we should know how much it costs to have a knee replaced.

There’s another reason, though, why now is the time to talk about healthcare: President Trump needs to beat Democrats to the punch. As NBC News notes, “[Healthcare is] a political winner for Joe Biden and Democratic candidates among liberals and swing voters across the country. And it has urgency, with [ObamaCare] headed back to the Supreme Court one week after Election Day [and] as the country’s coronavirus death toll has topped 200,000.”

“Taken together,” begins the closing paragraph of the president’s order, “these extraordinary reforms constitute an ongoing effort to improve American healthcare by putting patients first and delivering continuous innovation. And this effort will continue to succeed because of my Administration’s commitment to delivering great healthcare with more choices, better care, and lower costs for all Americans.”

It certainly sounds good. Let’s see where it goes.

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