Calling it a “complete and total disaster,” President-elect Donald J. Trump today reaffirmed he will repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
Trump also announced he will unveil a proposed replacement plan shortly after Tom Price, MD, (R-Ga.), his nominee for HHS secretary, is confirmed by the Senate.
Nine days away from being sworn in as the 45th president of the United States, Trump told reporters gathered for a press conference at Trump Tower in New York that the United States drug industry has been “disastrous,” and that hospitals such as Cleveland Clinic and Mayo Clinic have agreed to align themselves with the Veterans Health Administration to provide better care for America’s military.
Affordable Care Act
Asked about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) 35 minutes into the news conference, Trump chuckled, saying he thought he was never going to be asked.
“You’re going to be very proud of what we put forth having to do with health care,” he said. “Obamacare is a complete and total disaster. They can say what they want, they can guide you any way they want to guide you. In some cases, they guide you incorrectly. In most cases, you realize what’s happened. It’s imploding as we sit.”
Allowing the ACA to remain in place would be “catastrophic,” Trump said.
“We don’t want to own it politically,” he said. “They [the Democrats] own it right now. The easiest thing would be to let it implode in 2017 and, believe me, we’d get whatever we wanted, but it would take a long time. We’re going to be submitting, as soon as our secretary is approved, almost simultaneously or shortly thereafter, a plan. It will be repeal and replace. ... We’re going to get a health bill passed and health care taken care of in this country.”
Price, an orthopedic surgeon who chairs the House Budget Committee and has been an opponent of the ACA, was nominated by Trump on Nov. 29. The Georgia Republican has offered several plans to repeal and replace the ACA, including the Empowering Patients First Act. Price is a proponent of offering patients health savings accounts that may be drawn from to pay for care, as well as offering tax credits to help people purchase their own health insurance.
“You have deductibles that are so high that after people go broke after paying their premiums, which are going through the roof. The health care can’t even be used by them because the deductibles are so high,” Trump said. “Obamacare is the Democrats’ problem. We’re going to take the problem off the shelves for them. We’re doing them a tremendous service by doing it.
“So, as soon as our secretary is approved and gets into the office, we’ll be filing a plan and the plan will be repeal and replace Obamacare,” he added. “We’re going to have a health care that’s far less expensive and far better.”
on Wall Street
Trump’s Nov. 8 victory in the presidential election was greeted with a surge in pharmaceutical stocks. But by early afternoon today, stock prices for major pharmaceutical companies had fallen sharply.
Bristol-Myers Squibb’s stock had lost more than 5% of its value. Celgene had declined by more than 3%, and Amgen and AstraZeneca were off more than 2%.
Those declines may have been related to Trump calling the U.S. drug industry “disastrous.”
“We have to get our drug industry coming back,” he said during the opening remarks at his press conference. “Our drug industry has been disastrous. They’re leaving left and right. They supply our drugs but they don’t make them here to a large extent.
“The other thing we have to do is create new bidding procedures for the drug industry because they’re getting away with murder,” he added. “Pharma has a lot of lobbyists and a lot of power, and there’s very little bidding on drugs. We’re the largest buyer of drugs in the world, and yet we don’t bid properly and we’re going to start bidding and we’re going to save billions of dollars over a period of time.”
Care for veterans
Trump also said he’d like to see better care provided to U.S. veterans.
“Our veterans have been treated horribly,” he said. “They’re waiting in line for 15, 16 or 17 days, cases where they have a minor early-stage form of cancer and they can’t see a doctor. By the time they get to a doctor it’s terminal. It’s not going to happen.
“Were going to be talking to a few people,” Trump added. “We have some of the great hospitals of the world that are going to align themselves with the Veterans Administration, like Cleveland Clinic and Mayo Clinic — hospitals that are the absolute top of the line, and they’re going to get together with their great doctors and we’re going to straighten out the VA for our veterans. I’ve been promising that for a long time and it’s something I feel very, very strongly about.”
A report released Tuesday by HHS shows that more than 11.5 million people nationwide were signed up for Health Insurance Marketplace coverage as of Dec. 24, an increase of 286,000 plan selections from one year earlier.
Additionally, more than 700,000 residents of Minnesota and New York signed up for 2017 coverage through their states’ Basic Health Programs (BHPs), bringing the total signed up for coverage through either the Marketplace or a BHP to 12.2 million.
“Nationwide demand for health coverage is higher than ever, as Americans prove again that Marketplace coverage is vital to them and their families,” HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell said in a CMS-issued press release. “For Americans who have not yet signed up, it’s not too late. Open enrollment continues through Jan. 31, but you should visit healthcare.gov by this Sunday to ensure your coverage starts Feb. 1. Most healthcare.gov consumers can find a plan for less than $75 per month in premiums, and millions are finding plans that meet their and their families’ needs.”
Despite predictions that an anticipated rise in 2017 premiums would lead to sharp declines in enrollment, a report released Tuesday by the Council of Economic Advisors shows that a broad cross-section of Americans continues to rely on the Marketplace to access affordable, quality coverage.
In the 39 states that are using the healthcare.gov enrollment platform for 2017, more than 12 million people signed up for coverage, including 8 million females and 4 million males, of whom 9 million were white, 584,000 black, 882,000 Latino and 573,000 Asian consumers.
Of those signed up for coverage, 3.2 million are adults aged 35 to 54 years; 2.5 million are aged older than 54 years; 2.3 million are aged 18 to 34 years; and 840,000 are aged 17 years and younger.
The report underscores the importance of financial assistance for Marketplace consumers across the country. More than eight in 10 individuals — 9.3 million people —– who are signed up for 2017 plans through the Marketplace will receive advance premium tax credits.
Among the 7.2 million healthcare.gov consumers who will receive tax credits, tax credits will reduce premiums by an average of $386 per month. On an annual basis, that works out to $4,600 per year.
Open Enrollment continues through Jan. 31. Consumers have until Jan. 15 to sign up for coverage that begins Feb. 1. – by Chuck Gormley