Trump gets his facts about health care wrong in Saturday morning tweetstorm

The bill is hanging by a thread.

Senate Armed Services chairman Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., speaks during a hearing on 'Recent United States Navy Incidents at Sea', Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, on Capitol Hill in Washington. CREDIT: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
Senate Armed Services chairman Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., speaks during a hearing on 'Recent United States Navy Incidents at Sea', Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, on Capitol Hill in Washington. CREDIT: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

President Trump criticized Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and misrepresented the latest attempt by Republicans in the Senate to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act on Twitter Saturday morning.

Trump claimed, in a tweetstorm mostly about health care, that premiums in Arizona and Alaska had skyrocketed, 116 and 200 plus percent, respectively.

First and most importantly, that is misleading. While topline premiums in both states did rise 116 and 200 plus percent, those numbers don’t take into account the nearly 80 percent of people who get subsidies that offset the costs of their premiums.

In Alaska, for example, the average premium increase has been closer to 25 percent.

Secondly, while premiums have certainly gone up, Trump conveniently ignores the fact that this is, in many ways, his fault.

Insurers rely on predictions about the market in order to set their rates, and when insurers recently had to make their rate requests for 2018, nearly all insurers who requested increases said it was because of the way Trump has stoked uncertainty in the market.

In the same Saturday morning tweetstorm, Trump also praised the repeal bill, spearheaded by Sens. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA), saying the way the bill would block grant health care funding to states “is a good thing to do.”

“Better control & management,” Trump said. “Great for Arizona.”

But almost every analysis of the bill says otherwise.

According to nonpartisan health care consulting firm Avalere, Arizona and Alaska would be among the states hit the hardest by funding cuts. The bill, if it were signed into law, could also result in an additional 32 million people without insurance by 2026 and every state would suffer under the nearly $4 trillion funding cuts over the next two decades.

Trump’s tweets Saturday morning focused on Arizona and Alaska because McCain and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) are considered two key swing votes on the bill.

On Friday afternoon, McCain announced he would not be voting for the repeal and replace bill, spearheaded by Graham and Cassidy, because he said he wanted the Senate to handle health care legislation under regular order, and not the currently expedited reconciliation process.

“John McCain never had any intention of voting for this Bill, which his Governor loves. He campaigned on Repeal & Replace,” Trump tweeted Saturday. “Let Arizona down!”

McCain is the second Republican to say he will not vote for the bill, making its passage unlikely but not impossible. The first was Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who Trump also tweeted about Saturday, saying, “I know Rand Paul and I think he may find a way to get there for the good of the Party!”

Many congressional watchers agree with the president. Paul has said he won’t vote for Graham-Cassidy because it doesn’t go far enough, but Paul has voted for less radical repeal bills in the past, leading some to believe Paul’s vote may still be in play.