In speeches, in tweets, in interviews, President Trump keeps promising that he will preserve protections for Americans with pre-existing health conditions.
It’s a crowd-pleaser of a policy, but one entirely at odds with his administration’s legislative, regulatory and legal record to date.
The promise is likely to appear in television ads, the presidential debates and possibly in an oft-teased, ever forthcoming executive order on the subject. Vice President Pence said Tuesday that the president would “take action” in the days ahead.
But rather than enshrine the ability of Americans with health problems to buy insurance, the Trump administration has, at every turn, pursued policies that have tended to do the opposite.
Some of the efforts to weaken protections have been successful — like an expansion of cheap, lightly regulated health plans that insurers are not required to offer when customers are sick. Others, like multiple attempts to “repeal and replace Obamacare” in 2017, failed to attract enough Republican votes in Congress to pass. The Justice Department’s quest to overturn the Affordable Care Act, while no replacement is being offered, is still underway, with oral arguments scheduled at the Supreme Court in November.
“We will always and very strongly protect patients with pre-existing conditions,” Mr. Trump declared at the Republican convention last month. “We will protect your pre-existing conditions,” he said at a recent campaign rally in Las Vegas. In January, he went as far as to say he “saved pre-existing conditions.”
Yet despite a record to the contrary, these repeated statements seem to be having an impact. A recent survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 84 percent of Republicans believe President Trump has a better approach for “maintaining protections for people with pre-existing conditions.”
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