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Sept. 24, 2020, 9:00 p.m. EDT

New Trump health-care ‘vision’ is largely aspirational but promises $200 drug discount cards to Medicare enrollees

Executive order envisions tapping billions of dollars in savings that don’t yet exist to fund the co-pay discount cards, the Boston Globe Media health and medicine news operation STAT reports

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By Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — More than 3½ years into his presidency and 40 days from an election, President Donald Trump on Thursday launched what aides termed a “vision” for health care that appeared largely aspirational but that also promised to mail out $200 drug discount cards to Medicare recipients — which critics immediately derided as an attempt to buy votes on Nov. 3, as polls show persuadable seniors breaking in Democrat Joe Biden’s direction.

Key Words: ‘Trump Cards’? Drug companies reportedly balked at White House insistence on sending cash cards to America’s seniors

Boasted Trump of the Thursday announcement: “It is affirmed, signed and done, so we can put that to rest.”

‘Executive orders issued close to elections are not the same thing as actual policies.’

Katherine Hempstead, a senior policy adviser with the nonpartisan Robert Wood Johnson Foundation,

He signed an executive order on a range of issues, including protecting people with pre-existing medical conditions from insurance discrimination. That right is guaranteed in the Affordable Care Act, the Obama-era health law that his administration is asking the Supreme Court to overturn.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi observed that Trump’s “bogus executive order on pre-existing conditions isn’t worth the paper it’s signed on.” Democrats are betting that they have the edge on health care this election season.

Trump spoke at an airport hangar in swing state North Carolina to a crowd that included white-coated, mask-wearing health workers. He stood on a podium in front of a blue background emblazoned with the words “America First Healthcare Plan.” His latest health-care pitch predictably won plaudits from administration officials and political supporters but failed to impress others.

“Executive orders issued close to elections are not the same thing as actual policies,” said Katherine Hempstead, a senior policy adviser with the nonpartisan Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which works on a range of health-care issues, from coverage to quality.

Associated Press
President Donald Trump shows off a signed executive order after delivering remarks on health care at Charlotte Douglas International Airport on Thursday in battleground North Carolina.

Trump’s speech served up a clear political attack, as he accused Democrats of wanting to unleash a “socialist nightmare” on the U.S. health-care system, replete with rationing. But Biden, the two-term vice president under President Obama, has rejected calls from his party’s left for a government-run plan for all. Instead, he wants to expand the Affordable Care Act and add a public program as an option.

Trump returned to health care amid disapproval of his administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and growing uncertainty about the future of the Obama-era law.

In a rambling North Carolina speech, Trump promised quality health care at affordable prices, lower prescription drug costs, more consumer choice and greater transparency. His executive order would also to try to end surprise medical bills.

“’If we win we will have a better and less expensive plan that will always protect people with pre-existing conditions,” Trump declared.

But while his administration has taken some steps in the health-care realm, the sweeping changes Trump promised as a candidate in 2016 have eluded him.

The clock has all but run out in Congress for major legislation on lowering drug costs or ending surprise bills, much less replacing the Affordable Care Act, widely known as “Obamacare,” a moniker attached to it by Republicans and later reluctantly embraced by the Obama administration.

Pre-election bill-signing ceremonies on prescription drugs and surprise medical charges were once seen as achievable — if challenging — goals for the president. No longer.

Trump’s speech Thursday conflated some of his administration’s achievements with policies that are in stages of implementation and others that remain aspirational.

Democrats are warning Trump would turn back the clock if given another four years in the White House, and they’re promising coverage for all and lower drug prices.

‘For more than 20 years, we debated ways to protect people from pre-existing-conditions limitations,’ until President Barack Obama’s landmark health-care legislation established such protections.

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