Trump Plans Major Health Care Speech in September, Conway Says

August 8, 2019by Justin Sink
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway talks to the media outside the White House in Washington, D.C., on July 26, 2019. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump plans to introduce an “elaborate” plan to overhaul the nation’s health care system in a major September speech, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said Wednesday.

The plan is expected to include proposals to reduce drug prices — including a long-promised order requiring Medicare to create an “international pricing index” to match drug prices to what other nations pay — as well as a policy to protect sick people from discrimination by private health insurers and new programs to assist those without insurance, Conway said.

“We’re working every single day here,” Conway told reporters. “I’ve already been in meetings this morning on the president’s health care plan. It’s pretty impressive.”

Trump has repeatedly promised action on drug prices and protections for people with pre-existing conditions since Democrats won control of the House in 2018. The opposition party focused intensely on Republican health care legislation intended to replace Obamacare that would have allowed insurers to charge higher prices to sick people, in some cases. But the president’s promises have yet to be matched with actual policy.

Conway said Trump’s plan would also overhaul Medicaid and enable workers to more easily buy insurance plans other than those provided by their employers. The administration is also weighing provisions that would expand health savings accounts, link the transparency of health providers’ prices to quality metrics, and allow the sale of insurance across state lines, according to The Wall Street Journal, which reported Trump’s plans for a major health care speech last week.

“We’re making sure there’s more freedom in the health care system,” Conway said.

Though health care legislation has repeatedly confounded the president during his first two years in office, the White House is eager to present an alternative to Democratic candidates who advocate expanding Medicare, the program for the elderly and disabled, to cover nearly all Americans.

Conway said “Medicare for All” would result in health care rationing and is too expensive. Studies of the plans have estimated they would raise federal health care spending by tens of trillions of dollars over a decade, but the cost would be at least partially offset by trillions of dollars in savings for state governments, private businesses and individual Americans.

About 51% of Americans support a proposal in which a single government plan would cover everyone, according to a July poll released by the Kaiser Family Foundation. And in a late July survey by Reuters, 4 in 10 respondents said Democrats had a better approach to health care, versus 23% who said Republicans had the preferable policy.

Conway said the White House had already briefed House Republicans about the president’s plans and would extend an invitation to Democrats interested in learning about the legislation.

Trump himself has recently hinted at his coming proposals, telling the crowd at a political rally in Cincinnati last week that he had “even bigger” plans for health care on the way.

The president was originally planning to unveil an element of the plan related to Medicare during a trip to a Florida retirement community on Tuesday, but that visit was scrapped after the mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas.

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©2019 Bloomberg News

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