On Wednesday, President Trump revealed profound confusion about how health insurance works, suggesting to the New York Times that he thinks people can buy coverage for $12 a year.
Asked about Trump’s comments during an MSNBC interview Thursday morning, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) defended the president, saying he’s “about broad principles,” not specifics.
But Cassidy — who publicly expressed concern about the version of Trumpcare that went down in flames earlier this week, and has proposed his own replacement plan — took things a step further. He went on to say that he doesn’t think it’s important for the president to understand the details health care legislation at all.
“I don’t think it’s important to him to understand the policy intricacies of this bill,” he said. “What’s important for him is to understand the principle. His principle is that there should be a replace, associated with repeal. And during the campaign he consistently said, he wanted to continue coverage for those who had [it], cover preexisting conditions, eliminate mandates and lower premiums — those are very good principles by which to go.”
Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) explains that Trump doesn't have to understand anything about the Senate health care bill to support it. pic.twitter.com/FfzoISsuAd
— CAP Action (@CAPAction) July 20, 2017
Despite bragging to the New York Times that Republican senators “couldn’t believe it, how much I know about [health care],” Trump’s often-shifting health care position doesn’t seem to be grounded in any firm or specific principles.
This week alone, Trump has tweeted support for a bipartisan repeal and replace plan, just letting Obamacare fail, and having Republican senators make a new sales pitch for the a deeply unpopular Trumpcare bill that would strip coverage from more than 20 million people. The only thing that has remained consistent is Trump’s unwillingness or inability to speak about health care policy in any detail.
In the wake of Trumpcare’s latest failure, nobody seems to know anything about Senate Republicans’ new plan. Following a White House luncheon on Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) indicated he’s planning to forge ahead with a health care vote next week, but provided no details about what plan will be on the table.
According to The Hill, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) responded to a question about what bill will be up for a vote by saying, “I suspect it will be anything senators want to vote on. If a senator wants to offer an amendment that’s the 2015 [Obamacare repeal] bill, they can do that.”
The morning following his New York Times interview, the White House distributed a news release indicating that the president doesn’t much care what bill he signs, as long as it repeals Obamacare.
Yesterday, I met with Republican Senators at the White House and told them that now is the time for action. Obamacare was a big lie. “You can keep your doctor” — lie. “You can keep your plan” — lie. Now, people are hurting, and inaction is not an option. We must repeal and replace this disaster. The Senate should not leave for summer recess until it has passed a plan to give our people great healthcare. I’m ready to act; I have pen in hand. I’ll sign the legislation into law, and then we can celebrate for the American people.
– President Donald J. Trump
Trump is eager to celebrate, but Trumpcare has remained unpopular with the American public — both in its own right and in relation to existing law — since the framework of the House version first came together in March. It’s hard to make a case for stripping coverage from more than 20 million people while weakening protections for consumers and gouging seniors, and the Trump administration’s effort to do so has primarily consisted of misinformation and lies.