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Trump writes laughably false op-ed about Medicare for All

In a paranoid rant, Trump warns Americans that Democrats want to take away health care. Here's the truth.

President Donald Trump at The White House in Washington, DC, April 11, 2018. (Credit: Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images)
President Donald Trump at The White House in Washington, DC, April 11, 2018. (Credit: Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump took a break from Twitter Wednesday to rail against Medicare for All in a falsehood-ridden op-ed for USA Today, despite promising voters on the campaign trail in 2016 that health care for all is “just human decency.”

The op-ed, which editors clearly didn’t bother to fact-check, contained dozens of lies about the health care proposal for which many Democrats have advocated over the past two years. The plan has various interpretations, depending on which Democrats you ask, with some arguing for Medicare expansion and others arguing for allowing people and employers to buy into Medicare as a public option, leaving private health insurance plans intact.

But what most people mean when they advocate for Medicare for All — and what Trump is attacking in his op-ed — is a single government-run health care system, a proposal that is wildly popular, with 70 percent of Americans supportive of the plan. Indeed, Trump himself essentially argued in favor of Medicare for All while he was running for president in 2016, telling MSNBC, “We’re going to take care of them. We’re going to take care of them. We have to take care of them. Now, that’s not single payer. That’s not anything. That’s just human decency.”

Here are the most egregious lies Trump tells in the piece:

Medicare for All “would end Medicare as we know it”

As ThinkProgress’ Ian Milhiser previously reported, the phrase “end Medicare as we know it” is both “literally true and intentionally misleading.” Yes, Medicare for All would end Medicare as we know it, because the proposal aims to change the program from one that only covers some Americans to one that covers all Americans.

Medicare for All “would cost an astonishing $32.6 trillion during its first 10 years”

Again, while this is not necessarily a lie, Trump’s framing is grossly misleading. The president cites a Koch-funded study, which, yes, found that Medicare for All would cost $32.6 trillion over a decade. What he fails to mention, however, is that the $32.6 trillion number is $2 trillion less than what the U.S. currently spends on health care. In other words, Medicare for All would save money.

“As a candidate I promised that we would protect coverage for patients with pre-existing conditions … I have kept that promise”

On the contrary, Trump has gone out of his way to ensure that people with pre-existing conditions are not protected. In June, his administration told a federal court that it would no longer defend the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on the grounds that protections for people with pre-existing conditions are unconstitutional. This, despite the norm that the federal government upholds and defends federal law.

“Democrats have already harmed seniors by slashing Medicare by more than $800 billion over 10 years to pay for Obamacare”

This is a favorite talking point of Republicans that dates back to the 2012 presidential campaign. Trump revives it by citing a 2015 Congressional Budget Office report that found that repealing the ACA would add $802 billion to Medicare spending. But, according to Families USA, the increase in Medicare spending would “likely lead to higher premiums, deductibles, and cost sharing for beneficiaries, and would accelerate the projected insolvency date of the Medicare Hospital Insurance trust fund.”

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The ACA has, in fact, extended Medicare solvency, ensuring older Americans have key health protections. As the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging found, “Repealing the ACA would eliminate efforts to close the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap for up to nine million Medicare beneficiaries, exacerbating already difficult economic decisions for many vulnerable seniors.”

Trump also argues that the Democratic plan would “end choice for seniors” by getting rid of “other private health plans.” As already mentioned, these claims are misleading, as they fail to mention that Medicare for All proponents aim to expand Medicare as a replacement for existing private health plans.

“Democrats want open-borders socialism”

The great minds at USA Today actually made this sentence a subhed in Trump’s op-ed, undeterred by the fact that it, too, is an egregious and fear-mongering lie. Trump further claims that “Democrats are radical socialists who want to model America’s economy after Venezuela.” Medicare for All is not socialism, however. It would simply nationalize the insurance industry, a plan dozens of developed countries, including the United Kingdom and Canada, have adopted.

Trump riddles his piece with countless other lies, which would take at least a thousand more words to debunk. And it’s not surprising. The GOP has spent the last decade trying to dismantle health care and voters haven’t forgotten the disastrous, and ultimately unsuccessful, American Health Care Act, which would have repealed the ACA and left millions of people uninsured.

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With the midterm elections less than one month away, it’s easy to see why Trump, and countless other Republicans, are now claiming to defend health care.