State of the Union: Trump on Medicare for All, Drug Pricing, Pre-existing Conditions

Donald Trump standing at a podium next to Bernie Sanders holding paper and microphone; state of the union address

Donald Trump delivered his annual State of the Union address on February 4, during which he addressed a topic at the forefront of most Americans’ minds: healthcare. In a January poll, Gallup reported that 81 percent of Americans rank healthcare as “extremely important” or “very important.”

Medicare for All

Trump used the State of the Union address to take aim at Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), one of the front runners of the Democratic presidential primary race, saying, “We will never let socialism destroy American health care!”

“One hundred thirty-two lawmakers in this room have endorsed legislation to impose a socialist takeover of our health care system,” Trump said, “wiping out the private health insurance plans of 180 million Americans.” 

Trump then pivoted to the role immigration plays in universal healthcare, stating that 130 lawmakers endorsed legislation to provide healthcare to undocumented immigrants. Providing healthcare for undocumented immigrants is a healthcare platform for presidential candidates Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MD), and former Vice President Joe Biden.

Hospital price transparency

Although a bill that would force drug companies to disclose drug prices in TV ads has stalled in the courts, a similar bill is slated to go into effect in 2021. 

Trump lauded the rule and claimed it would save “massive amounts of money for substantially better care.” 

This rule would require hospitals to provide prices for services before they are performed if possible. While this would allow patients to make more informed healthcare decisions, one criticism is that it would also cause confusion and undue stress. It is likely that the listed price of services would not be accurate as it does not account for payments from insurance or hospital financial aid. 

Drug pricing 

During the address, Trump also said, “I am calling for bipartisan legislation that achieves the goal of dramatically lowering prescription drug prices. Get a bill on my desk, and I will sign it into law immediately.”

It is important to note that a bipartisan drug pricing bill was recently sabotaged by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, according to Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR). The senate is the last stop before a bill is taken to the President’s desk to be signed into law. 

Pre-existing conditions

“I have also made an ironclad pledge to the American family,” Trump said. “We will always protect patients with pre-existing conditions.”

According to Axios, the Trump administration is currently in court trying to strike down the entire Affordable Care Act (ACA), which would effectively remove protections for patients with pre-existing conditions. 

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