Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has proposed the only health care plan that would fulfill all the health care promises made by President Trump—but White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders slammed the single-payer health care plan Wednesday, saying Trump thinks it would be a horrible idea.
“I think that the president as well as the majority of the country knows that the single payer system that the Democrats are proposing is a horrible idea,” Huckabee Sanders told reporters. “I can’t think of anything worse than having the government be more involved in your health care instead of less involved.”
But Sen. Sanders’ plan, which was officially unveiled Wednesday afternoon, is a replacement of the Affordable Care Act that, over the course of four years, expands Medicare eligibility until every resident of the United States is covered.
The plans Trump has supported in recent months, spearheaded by Republicans in Congress, would have caused premiums to skyrocket, cost millions of people their insurance, and slashed Medicaid— but despite what his press secretary says, Trump has praised single-payer and universal health care systems for years, including on the campaign trail and since his election.
One of the central tenants of the Trump 2016 campaign was repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act.
“We’re going to end, terminate, repeal Obamacare and replace it with something really, really great that works. That works,” Trump said in New Hampshire in September 2015.
Dozens of times on the campaign trail, Trump promised to repeal and replace Obamacare—and Sanders’ plan is to do exactly that. The implementation of his Medicare for All plan would repeal Obamacare and replace it with a universal single-payer system.
And often when Trump has promised to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, he has said it will be replaced with something less expensive.
“I think Obamacare is a very big issue. I see it, we are going to repeal it or replace it with something much better and much less expensive,” Trump said on Fox last February. “We have a lot of different things we are going to do.”
And the economic benefit of a single-payer system has often been touted by Sanders and his co-sponsors.
“It’s so much better people have meaningful access to affordable health care at every stage from birth on because the alternative [is] we as taxpayers otherwise are paying huge amounts for money for them to get their health care in an emergency room,” Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) said when she announced her support for the bill. “It’s not only about what’s morally and ethically right, it also just makes sense from a fiscal standpoint or a return on investment for taxpayers.”
And although Medicare for All would likely be financed in part by a tax increase, it would also eliminate co-pays and out-of-pocket costs, a trade off Sanders says is more than fair.
“Under Medicare for All, the average American family will be much better off financially than under the current system, because you will no longer be writing checks to private insurance companies,” Sanders said Wednesday. “While, depending on your income, your taxes may go up to pay for this publicly funded program, that expense will be more than offset by the money you are saving by the elimination of private insurance costs.”
Trump has also repeatedly promised during the campaign that everyone would have health care.
“I am going to take care of everybody. I don’t care if it costs me votes or not,” he said on 60 Minutes in September 2015. “Everybody’s going to be taken care of much better than they’re taken care of now.”
Trump has also promised that he would not make cuts to Medicaid or Medicare, tweeting in May 2015, “I was the first & only potential GOP candidate to state there will be no cuts to Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid. Huckabee copied me.”
I was the first & only potential GOP candidate to state there will be no cuts to Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid. Huckabee copied me.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 7, 2015
In October 2015, Trump said, “I am going to save Medicare and Medicaid, Carson wants to abolish, and failing candidate Gov. John Kasich doesn’t have a clue – weak!”
I am going to save Medicare and Medicaid, Carson wants to abolish, and failing candidate Gov. John Kasich doesn't have a clue – weak!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 31, 2015
While Sanders’ plan would ultimately eliminate Medicaid, every current Medicaid recipient would be covered by the proposed universal Medicare program, as would every other U.S. resident.
Trump has also praised a universal or single-payer system in the past. In his book “The America We Deserve,” published in 2000, Trump sings the praises of a single-payer system.
“I’m a conservative on most issues but a liberal on this one,” Trump wrote. “We should not hear so many stories of families ruined by health care expenses. We must not allow citizens with medical problems to go untreated because of financial problems or red tape… Working out detailed plans will take time. But the goal should be clear: Our people are our greatest asset. We must take care of our own. We must have universal health care.”
While many Democrats support “universal” health care, they do not support a single-payer system, but Trump goes so far to explicitly praise a single-payer system like Sen. Bernie Sanders has proposed, citing a study that found it would save the country billions.
“The Canadian plan also helps Canadians live longer and healthier than Americans. There are fewer medical lawsuits, less loss of labor to sickness, and lower costs to companies paying for the medical care of their employees,” the book says. “We need, as a nation, to reexamine the single-payer plan, as many individual states are doing.”
Years later, when he was campaigning for president, Trump did not use the phrase “single-payer” anymore, but still promised a universal health care system.
And in May, after a failed attempt by Republicans in Congress to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Trump praised the Australian health care system, which is mostly funded by the government and relies on private insurance for some services.
Of course the Australians have better healthcare than we do –everybody does. ObamaCare is dead! But our healthcare will soon be great.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 5, 2017
“It’s going to be fantastic health care,” Trump said about the next attempt to repeal and replace the ACA during a press conference with the Australian prime minister. “I shouldn’t say this to our great gentleman and my friend from Australia because you have better health care than we do.”
Sen. Sanders was quick to agree with Trump.
“Well, Mr. President, you’re right. In Australia and every other major country on Earth they guarantee health care to all people,” Sanders said on CNN. “They don’t throw 24 million people off health insurance. So maybe when we get to the Senate we should start off with looking at the Australian health care system.”
President Trump is right. The Australian health care system provides health care to all of its people at a fraction of the cost than we do. pic.twitter.com/CCrZlEyjQh
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) May 6, 2017
At Wednesday’s briefing, Press Secretary Sanders also said a single-payer system is not supported by the American people.
“Not only does the president not support it, but America doesn’t support it or Bernie Sanders would be sitting in the Oval Office right now. He pushed these ideas forward during the campaign. They were rejected, not just by America but by Democrats,” she said. “He didn’t make it through the primary. He didn’t make it into the Oval. I think that’s a pretty clear indication of what America wants to see, and it’s not a single-payer system.”
But expanding Medicare to cover all Americans is actually has widespread support, according to a poll from The Economist and YouGov. 60 percent of Americans — including 75 percent of Democrats, 58 percent of Independents, and 46 percent of Republicans — support expanding Medicare coverage to all Americans.