Trump Campaign Views Healthcare as a 2020 Campaign Weapon

Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

U.S. President Donald Trump’s campaign believes he can turn Republicans’ biggest liability from last year’s congressional elections – the debate about the future of healthcare in America – into a winning issue for his reelection.

That would have appeared highly unlikely just months ago, when Democrats seized upon the issue of coverage for pre-existing medical conditions to capture control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Since then, the 2020 Democratic presidential field has been locked in a debate about how far to go to transform the U.S. healthcare system. Some candidates have suggested abolishing private insurance in favor of a single government-run plan, sometimes referred to as “Medicare for All,” while others favor more modest reforms.

Trump’s campaign is betting that whoever emerges with the Democratic nomination next year will have been forced to embrace a sweeping healthcare reform proposal that may spook moderate voters.

“The president has taken the issue back,” Tim Murtaugh, Trump’s campaign communications director, told Reuters in an interview. “(Democrats are) taking the Blue Cross (private insurance) card out of your wallet and making it worthless.”

About half of the dozen top-tier of Democratic hopefuls vying for the nomination have endorsed some form of Medicare for All, according to a Reuters analysis of campaign positions.

Democrats could end up ceding political ground if they nominate a candidate who advocates for universal healthcare, said Drew Altman, president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-partisan healthcare advocacy group.

“The polls show very clearly that the Democrats have a very substantial advantage on health and all the health issues,” Altman said. “If the Democrat is a candidate who is a big advocate for Medicare for All, it will play a little differently.”

Some voters will be leery of losing their private insurance, but Democrats are still likely to win over those concerned about pre-existing conditions and abortion access, Altman said.

TOUTING REFORMS

Trump has yet to set forth his long-promised healthcare reform plan.

But he is speaking about healthcare more frequently. At a rally in Pennsylvania on Monday, Trump repeated his promise to keep protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

He also is likely to tout what the White House and his campaign say are meaningful changes the administration has made to help small businesses and to try to reduce the price of prescription drugs for U.S. consumers. His administration recently mandated pharmaceutical companies include list prices of drugs in television ads in a bid to get them to lower prices.

His administration argued in a report released in February that it has made healthcare markets more efficient by de-regulating some aspects of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Those included doing away with the law’s mandate to purchase health insurance and expanding coverage options through association plans, which allow small businesses to band together to purchase insurance.

“The president can point to real results on healthcare,” Murtaugh said.

But Trump also has provided Democrats with fodder they are likely to use to challenge his healthcare claims, and they are sure to argue that Trump will cost millions of Americans their coverage.

The president already backed a proposal in Congress that would have reduced protections for pre-existing conditions – despite his continued insistence that he does not want to eliminate those rules. And he has proposed reductions to Medicaid and Medicare funding.

His campaign will be forced to navigate those decisions as well as dispel voters’ worry that Trump wants to gut the existing Obamacare framework with no effective replacement.

Trump said in a local media interview in Pennsylvania this week he would roll out a new healthcare plan soon. The White House did not respond to a request for comment on the timing.

Providing such a plan will be critical to winning over voters next year, said Michael Steel, a former top aide to former Republican House Speaker John Boehner.

Steel said that while he thinks Democrats are “overreaching” on the issue, “we’ll need our own conservative cost-containment plan to truly go on offense. And we don’t have that yet.”

WORRIED VOTERS

Chris Kofinis, a Democratic strategist and former chief of staff to Senator Joe Manchin, a moderate from West Virginia, said Trump’s campaign underestimates the depth of voter anxiety over healthcare costs and coverage.

Branding Democratic proposals as “socialist” will not be persuasive, he said.

“They’re wrong if they think they can win this as an ideological debate,” Kofinis said, adding that his own work with voter groups has shown some appetite for a large-scale overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system.

Kofinis warned that Democrats risk losing their edge on the issue, however, if they fail to heed the lesson of the 2018 midterm elections and instead become preoccupied with investigations of Trump.

Last year, Democrats took 40 seats to regain the House, a victory largely fueled by voter concerns over losing coverage if Republicans dismantled Obamacare.

Murtaugh believes that Democrats did not act quickly enough to turn their electoral victories into action.

“The big conversation was about healthcare and what are they talking about? Impeachment,” Murtaugh said. “They won the election, but they haven’t done a damn thing with it.”

(Reporting by Ginger Gibson and James Oliphant; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Bill Berkrot)

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Jill
Member

Follow the money. Basic point is we cannot pay for everyone’s everything. The money has to come from some where. Next take a look at the list of politicians who are getting $200,000 to $325,000 from the pharmaceutical lobbyist! Millions of dollars are being doled out by our medication providers. We pay the tab!!! There is no reason a bottle that is less than an ounce for eye drops after eye surgery should cost $80 for the co-pay with a top notch insurance plan!!! Pull the curtain aside and learn who is pulling Congress around by the nose. Congress is… Read more »

TOM
Member

If your co-pay for a prescription is $80 with “top notch” insurance I suggest that you get a new insurance with better drug coverage. My plan is a $5 co-pay.

Turn on your television, any time any day any program, there will be an endless stream of lawyers with ads saying “if you took this drug call me, I can get you $Ms”. That is why drugs cost so much in the US.

Charles
Member

Co-pays are based on name brands or generic. If there is no generic, you’re in for a ride. It was much better before Obamacare tried to give away healthcare for 50 million freeloaders. Someone has to pay.

General Confusion
Member

“U.S. President Donald Trump’s campaign believes he can turn Republicans’ biggest liability from last year’s congressional elections – the debate about the future of healthcare in America – into a winning issue for his reelection.” article

ORELY! I am confused. How does this “very stable genius” (the King’s words, not mine) plan on doing this? Promising nonsense and lying like he did in 2015-16? Sure, repeal the ACA and have no replacement plan. Sounds like a winning plan for his empty-headed followers.

General Confusion
Member

“(Democrats are) taking the Blue Cross (private insurance) card out of your wallet and making it worthless.” Tim Murtaugh

Yeah, that’s what REAL replace looks like, you bozo! Out with the old and in with the new (don’t worry, SOME of us get this). Get rid of the old, inefficient, expensive PRIVATE system that’s literally killing and bankrupting us and replace it a single-payer system that is cheaper, covers everybody, and will MASSIVELY improve and free up our economy!

Pete
Guest
Pete

Medicare for All I agree

TOM
Member

Are you on Medi-don’t-care now. I am and it sucks. It costs me a fortune and covers nothing.

Charles
Member

Then you must love getting 25% of your earnings each week. That’s about what you’ll get, plus long waiting lines and years to get a surgery, if they give you one at all after you meet a board. Over 70, no surgery for you as you don’t have enough viable life left. Got a disease the don’t understand, no experimental surgery for you, even if it’s offered free. Remember the two boys in England? No thanks.

Cassandra
Guest
Cassandra

Do you know that the average family of four (4) in Canada pays $12,400.00 in taxes for their so called FREE health care?

General Confusion
Member

Cassandra is confused by “free” stuff. Only idiots say that health care would be free of cost. What free means here is that the usage of the system is free of extra costs, such co-pays and hidden costs. One ‘uge hidden cost is the hundreds of hours on the phone arguing with insurance companies that we have to spend trying to figure out coverage that got needlessly denied only because an insurance company wants more profit. So that family of four can use their system normally, properly and there are no sleepless night trying to figure out how to pay… Read more »

Charles
Member

You are the biggest idiot here!!

Charles
Member

‘Get rid of the old, inefficient, expensive PRIVATE system that’s literally killing and bankrupting us and replace it a single-payer system that is cheaper, covers everybody, and will MASSIVELY improve and free up our economy!’ That’s a big BS to that. Look at England and Canada. 70%+ taxes and hospitals/doctor offices so crowded that you can’t get healthcare. I’ve got friends from England. Two years waiting for a knee operation that I got in 3 days after I was diagnosed. Canadians coming to Montana and other states for surgeries that have a long waiting list in Canada. When it’s free,… Read more »

General Confusion
Member

“Some voters will be leery of losing their private insurance” Drew Altman

Why? I am very confused by this. Keeping our old crappy insurance, we lose-lose. We can’t win with it.

Charles
Member

That old crappy insurance is the result of the Democrats and Obamacare. NOBODY got to keep their plan.

General Confusion
Member

“Trump said in a local media interview in Pennsylvania this week he would roll out a new healthcare plan soon.” article

I am confused by this circus act. How many years have the Republicans had to do their homework on this?

“Hello? Hello? Anybody home, huh, Think, McFly! Think! I gotta have time to recopy it. Do you realize what what would happen if I handed in my homework in your handwriting? I’ll get kicked out of school. You wouldn’t want that to happen would ya? WOULD YA?!” Biff, Back To The Future

Charles
Member

You ARE confused. The very expensive plans we have today are a direct result of Democrats pushing Obamacare on America. Trying to pay for free healthcare for the 50 million freeloaders in the country had to cost someone. Congratulations, working stiffs, you pay the bill. Democrats do as always, screw everything up and then point at Republicans and play the blame game. We can’t afford the bill for Medicare for all, which will end up healthcare for none. You want to take home 25% – 30% of your earnings every week, vote for Democrats.

David Peacock
Member

When your voter base is ignorant and feckless it is easy to promise the fools free 666shit666.

James
Member

That clearly explains why they are referred to as “low-IQ, low information” voters. Throw anything up against the wall and it’ll stick inside their heads.

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