In his upcoming State of the Union Address, President Trump owes Americans some straight talk on health care. The reality is that Trump has already broken his many promises on health care. During his three years in office, Americans are paying more for medicine and millions have lost coverage due to cost increases.
In 2015, Trump told a conservative publication affiliated with the Heritage Foundation, “I’m not going to cut Social Security like every other Republican and I’m not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid.”
The very first thing he tried was repealing the Affordable Care Act, which included a popular bi-partisan expansion of Medicaid. Here in Arizona, the ACA’s Medicaid expansion is one of Governor Jan Brewer’s proudest accomplishments. If Trump had succeeded, more than 400,000 Arizonans would have lost their health coverage. Thankfully, Senator John McCain put a stop to Trump’s plan.
So much for not cutting Medicaid.
But it gets worse.
Under Trump, we are undergoing a huge spike in drug prices. Trump’s response? Give drug companies billions of dollars in tax breaks and oppose giving Medicare the authority to negotiate lower drug prices—the most effective solution to this problem. Though Trump pretends that drug prices are coming down, the truth is that drug companies have consistently raised their prices and reaped massive profits. In 2017, the prescription drug Lantus, used by patients with Diabetes, cost Arizonans $4,702 annually. It was $2,907 in 2012. Arizonans have experienced so many significant increases in the cost of medication that we are often forced to make the difficult decision of whether to pay for medication or buy groceries. This is just plain wrong.
Last, Trump and many Republican elected officials are pushing a partisan lawsuit to overturn the ACA. While this effort has snaked its way through the courts, Trump has found plenty of other ways to undermine Americans’ health care. His administration championed junk health insurance, claiming that they will expand coverage to more people. In reality, those plans allow insurance companies to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions. Expanding junk plans does nothing but harm Americans who desperately need comprehensive coverage.
Under this administration, attacks on the ACA have left 7 million Americans uninsured. Over 2017 and 2018, 55,000 fewer Arizonans had health coverage. In fact, just about 10 percent of Arizona’s population is now uninsured.
Despite the president’s many promises to release a “phenomenal” health care plan, he has yet to produce one. Polling has indicated that health care is a major topic of concern among Americans. The State of the Union Address will be another opportunity for President Trump to do his job by agreeing to work with Democrats to lower health care costs for families and crack down on the pharmaceutical industry for price-gouging Americans.
Morgan Tucker is with Protect Our Care Arizona.