Fact check: Trump's USA Today editorial

US President Donald Trump has written an editorial for USA Today. It contains a significant number of factual claims.

This article currently just attempts to pick apart things which are fact-checkable claims versus opinion and rhetoric.

  1. “Throughout the year, we have seen Democrats across the country uniting around a new legislative proposal that would end Medicare as we know it and take away benefits that seniors have paid for their entire lives.”  He is speaking here of “Medicare-for-all” which is explained to a degree in this Vox article.  Part of this claim is difficult to fact check.  The definition of what it means to end Medicare “as we know it” is likely to prove to be a matter of opinion – how big a change is necessary to say it is something different from what we had known, after all?  Another part, the claim that the proposal will “take away benefits that seniors have paid for their entire lives” is more direct.  Presumably “for their entire lives” is imprecise rhetoric, since when they were babies they likely weren’t paying, but the question of whether benefits would be taken away is a question of facts about what the proposal actually is.
  2. “Dishonestly called “Medicare for All,” the Democratic proposal would establish a government-run, single-payer health care system that eliminates all private and employer-based health care plans and would cost an astonishing $32.6 trillion during its first 10 years. ”  While the matter of whether the name is dishonest or not is likely to be a matter open to endless debate, the questions of whether the proposal is a “single-payer” system, and whether it “eliminates all private and employer-based health care plans” is a straightforward matter of fact.  The last point in this sentence – the “astonishing” cost is likely to be a matter of opinion, but we can at least elucidate where the estimate came from (presumably a Republican think tank or similar) and look at what estimates the Democrats are putting forward.  The claim likely can’t be perfectly fact checked but can be assessed to a degree in terms of whether Trump made it up out of thin air, etc.
  3. “As a candidate, I promised that we would protect coverage for patients with pre-existing conditions and create new health care insurance options that would lower premiums. I have kept that promise, and we are now seeing health insurance premiums coming down.”  Here we can check Trump’s formal and informal campaign promises.  We can also clearly check the claim that he has created new health care insurance options, and whether health insurance premiums are declining. Because of the complexity of that question, great care will be necessary.  Under Obamacare some premiums went up, some went down, so any broad claim like this needs to be handled carefully.
  4. According to Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post, nearly the entire Trump op-ed is incorrect. While Trump correctly points out that some studies estimate the cost of the program at $32.6 trillion over 10 years to the Federal Government, this does not look at what the effects will be on State Government and Individual expenditures.

Additionally, again theoretically, the plan Bernie Sanders proposes would increase benefits for seniors, not take them away.

Regarding pre-existing conditions, The Trump Administration has refused to defend against a lawsuit looking to rescind protections for people with pre-existing conditions. And premiums have continued to increase on average.

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