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Trumpcare, Coming This Fall?

Yuval Rosenberg

The Trump White House is “considering releasing” its long-promised health-care plan next month as part of an election campaign effort to counter calls from some Democrats for a transition to Medicare for All, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Citing unnamed sources, the Journal’s Stephanie Armour and Andrew Restuccia report that the Trump plan could provide coverage for people with pre-existing medical conditions and may seek to increase sales of insurance policies across state lines. Other elements being discussed include expanded health savings accounts and linking price transparency to quality metrics.

Reality check: This could all still fizzle. “White House officials stressed that the plans haven't been completed, and some close to the president have privately expressed skepticism,” Armour and Restuccia write. “One former White House official raised the possibility that the plan may not materialize this fall if Mr. Trump second-guesses the effort. The administration is also still weighing how specific the plan should be, the people familiar with the plan said, and the ideas have yet to get Mr. Trump’s sign off.”

The politics at play: The push to announce a plan reportedly comes as members of the Trump team are concerned that the president may be vulnerable on health care. The administration is supporting a legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act that, if successful, could leave some 20 million Americans uninsured or at risk of higher health care costs. Recent polls have found that the public trusts Democrats more on the health-care issue. Releasing a plan could help address that problem, for example by reinforcing Trump’s promise that Americans with pre-existing condition will still be protected if Obamacare is struck down. But putting out specific proposals would likely also open the president up to policy-based attacks, and those debates aren’t Trump’s strong suit.

The bottom line: Even if Trump does release a plan, parts would require congressional approval, and that’s unlikely to happen with a Democratic-controlled House — and with Republicans potentially facing internal divisions on health care, too. But the Journal report is just another indication that health care will be front and center in next year’s election.

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