If you haven’t already concluded that Donald Trump is the most intellectually lazy man to run for president in the history of this republic, take a minute to peruse the health care proposal he has finally cobbled together and posted on his campaign website. And, rest assured, it won’t take more than a minute to read. Trump’s “plan” consists of seven random nostrums that appear to have been hastily cribbed from conservative and libertarian websites by his various flunkies. And it confirms yet again that neither “the Donald” nor his yes men are willing to do their homework.
If you have read any serious Obamacare replacement plan, such as Senator Tom Price’s proposal, you will recognize Trump’s solution as the empty blather of a profoundly unserious man. Consider this stroke of genius (number 4 on his list): “Allow individuals to use Health Savings Accounts (HSAs).” Evidently, neither Trump nor his minions realize that individuals are already “allowed” to use HSAs. If this part of the plan more closely resembled the sweeping proposal for which Ben Carson was viciously attacked last year, it might be worthy of serious consideration.
Now that Dr. Carson has endorsed Trump, perhaps he can convince the Donald to build a genuine health reform plan around the HSA. That’s unlikely, however. Like Trump’s other proposals, it’s just something to put on the website so he can claim to have an actual plan. Number 5 on his list, for example, reads thus: “Require price transparency from all healthcare providers, especially doctors and… hospitals.” As with his HSA proposal, this betrays breathtaking ignorance. Such transparency has already been mandated by Obamacare and it has accomplished nothing.
Transparency isn’t the panacea Trump thinks it is because he makes uninformed assumptions about the health care market. His ignorance is such that, even when one of his borrowed ideas makes sense, he adds some caveat that would hobble its effectiveness. Item 2, for example, calls for removal of legal barriers that prevent the sale of coverage across state lines: “As long as the plan purchased complies with state requirements, any vendor ought to be able to offer insurance in any state.” Trump clearly has no idea that such requirements have been a major driver of our high uninsured rate.
The only feature of Trump’s plan that escaped the brainless alterations that his platoon of plagiarists have made to otherwise sensible ideas, like selling coverage across state lines, is item number 6: “Block-grant Medicaid to the states. Nearly every state already offers benefits beyond what is required in the current Medicaid structure. The state governments know their people best and can manage the administration of Medicaid far better without federal overhead.” This is not a new idea, of course, but it’s a good one. How it escaped being mangled by Trump’s minions is anyone’s guess.
This one good idea wasn’t enough, however, to stave off the well-deserved scorn to which Trump’s plan has been subjected by countless health care experts. But few of these wonks discuss the worst problem with Trump’s faux proposal. Ironically, the introduction to his plan points it out: “On day one of the Trump Administration, we will ask Congress to immediately deliver a full repeal of Obamacare.” The problem is that there will be no Trump administration. If he is the GOP nominee this fall, Hillary Clinton will win and control of the Senate will return to the Democrats.
Even if one adopts the position of the typical Trump supporter who believes we should ignore eight solid months of voter surveys showing the Donald being hammered by Hillary in the general election, just imagine what a presidential debate between Trump and Clinton would look like. Hillary may be dishonest, but she isn’t stupid. If you think Marco Rubio made a fool of the Donald over Obamacare, that was a mere rehearsal for what Hillary would do to him. Indeed, Trump’s incoherent health care proposal will be one of the main weapons she would use to cut him to pieces.
She will point out that the first item of his health care plan contains the following verbiage: “Our elected representatives must eliminate the individual mandate. No person should be required to buy insurance unless he or she wants to.” Then she will remind the audience that shortly before he adopted this position, he told CNN’s Anderson Cooper, “I like the mandate.” She is virtually certain to introduce that topic thus: “Donald Trump was for the individual mandate before he was against it.” The average voter is never going to buy the lame excuse he sold his supporters on that assertion.
And if he tries to change the subject to her email scandal, and the related FBI investigation, she’ll pivot to Trump University. To the general electorate, with which Trump is already extremely unpopular, his habit of bilking ordinary Americans out of their life savings will look far worse than Hillary’s sloppy email security. If he is stupid enough raise Bill Clinton’s various indiscretions, she will point out that he routinely brags about similar behavior on his own part. If he accuses her of being a big-government liberal, she’ll merely thank him for his donations to her campaigns.
All of which comes down to this: Trump’s health care plan is the perfect metaphor for his presidential campaign. It is an incoherent collection of random effusions from an intellectually lazy man who surrounds himself with sycophants, insults the intelligence of the voters, and has no chance of accomplishing its ostensible goal. It is yet another reason to support a serious GOP candidate.