Since Donald Trump’s presidency began, Washington observers have speculated that the president did not read the legislation written by presidential adviser Steve Bannon appointing himself to the National Security Council, does not read the legislation he signs in general, may not know how to read at all, or some combination thereof.
Today, Vox makes the case that the president does not know what’s in his healthcare legislation. During his weekend interview with CBS’s John Dickerson, a chat so amiable that Trump walked out after a question about his baseless wiretapping allegations, Trump demonstrated a fundamental ignorance about the contents of the bill, which was pulled from a floor vote last Thursday.
On the subject of pre-existing conditions, Trump said: “Pre-existing conditions are in the bill. And I just watched another network than yours, and they were saying, ‘Pre-existing is not covered.’ Pre-existing conditions are in the bill. And I mandate it. I said, ‘Has to be.'”
This depends on your definition of the words “has,” “mandate” and “covered,” because protections for pre-existing conditions are not in current version of the bill.
Vox points out: “A new amendment introduced this week to win Freedom Caucus support changes all that. It caves to conservatives’ demand to deregulate the insurance industry and let health plans once again use pre-existing conditions to set premium prices. It creates waivers that states can use to let health insurers charge sick patients higher premiums, a practice outlawed under current law.”
The article notes that several of Trump’s statements in the interview are blatantly untrue or backwards. In the interview, Trump said that deductibles under the new law would be lower than in Obamacare. They would actually be higher, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
And there are some facts for which there are no alternatives: Trump said during the campaign he would “cover everybody,” but the very first version of the bill would uninsure 21 million people, and older and poorer Americans would see their premiums go up.
“His answers on CBS suggest that, if he actually read the Republican bill, he would find it sorely disappointing — and at odds with his health care goals,” says Vox.
If this issue shakes out like the president’s vacillating views on China, NATO and Syria, his campaign promises are what will be repealed and replaced — and his followers may not care.