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March 9, 2016

Donald Trump Releases Health Care Reform Plan

IPI expert referenced: Merrill Matthews | In The News | Media Hit
  State of the State Kansas

The Manhattan mogul, first and foremost, calls for a complete repeal of the Affordable Care Act - better known Obamacare.

Trump's plan included seven items that members in the House of Representatives and Congress should address, including the complete ACA repeal, the elimination of the individual mandate, and no person should have the option of buying medical insurance.

People would be able to fully deduct their premiums off of their taxes, a move he said will ensure Americans who can't afford insurance won't be alienated.

Rhetorically, however, Trump still differs sharply from his fellow Republicans, often sounding more like a bleeding-heart liberal than a free-market conservative.

Oscar Health Insurance Corp. may be a top contender for the most hip insurance startup out there - it certainly has eye-catching subway ads - but its ability to turn a profit in a highly competitive industry is another matter. And this year they rise again to the greater of 2.5 percent of income or $695 per adult. Instead it suggests that Trump will "reduce the number of individuals needing access to programs like Medicaid".

"The outline of his health plan is nothing more than an outline that is so thin that you can't really make any assessments of what it would do, because from the outline, it wouldn't do much at all," said Merrill Matthews, resident scholar at the Institute for Policy Innovation, a Texas-based, right-leaning think tank. It's hard to see how, if states continue to regulate insurance differently, the theoretical benefits he touts could be achieved in practice. He repeats what had been the centerpiece of his healthcare discussions on the campaign trail: allowing health insurers to avoid state regulations and sell their plans anywhere in the country.

Some Trump proposals would change the tax treatment of health coverage. Being unaffordable was the leading reason (58 percent), followed by not being able to find a doctors who would take their health insurance (35 percent).

Many health economists argue that the opposite tack - eliminating the employer deduction - would be more beneficial.

To date, the law has expanded coverage to about 20 million Americans, driving the largest decline in the uninsured in at least half a century. That doesn't do much for people who can not access them even at a reduced price. - Allow all individuals to use Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), and make those contributions tax-free and allow them to accumulate year after year. But that's something that is already possible, and the accounts are quite popular.

One of their biggest critiques has been that lofty, big promises (free health care, without a deductible, for all!) aren't backed up with actual policies to make those plans realistic.

Lastly, the plan pledges bipartisian mental health reform without providing additional details.

"Since March of 2010, the American people have had to suffer under the incredible economic burden of the Affordable Care Act-Obamacare", Trump said in a statement. The plan also calls for transparency from hospitals so buyers can shop around for the lowest rates.

One of the most contested parts of Obamacare has been a provision that obligates states to expand Medicaid, the government's program for low-income Americans. A similar block grant restructuring plan would cut federal spending by $913 billion over the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

It's the second time that Trump, now the clear front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, has embraced an idea to bring down drug costs that's associated more with Democrats like Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders than with the party he's trying to lead. 


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