Somehow the thought that health care is a key issue has wormed its way into the brain of the heaving pile of rancid orange-tinged lard in the White House. He has grokked the fact that people want to keep their health insurance and are quite worried about losing it, and might even vote accordingly. Not that he's counting on actually winning based on votes, but his captive herd of orcs in the Senate need them, and he needs a Republican-controlled Senate. So he's finally officially doing something about preexisting conditions. Sort of. Okay, not really, but he's pretending like he's doing it.
Here it is. At a speech that was supposed to be totally presidential and was totally campaigning in North Carolina, he signing an executive order that says that it is it "the policy of the United States" to protect people with preexisting conditions. That’s it. Oh, and if Congress doesn't pass a law on surprise billing by January 1, 2021, the administration will do ... something. Why not do it now, reporters asked Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. "It is what it is," he said. Just like more than 200,000 Americans dead from coronavirus. These guys are such cards.
This is the result, apparently, of Trump demanding a "win" from his advisers on health care, leading to what The Washington Post says will be a "frenzied rollout of proposals." In the speech Trump gave in North Carolina announcing this "action" Thursday, he talked about efforts to lower drug prices (hasn't really happened), addressing surprise medical bills (he'll do it next year), and increase price transparency in health care (which also hasn't really happened).
But back to this executive order. It is the policy of the federal government already to protect the coverage of people with preexisiting conditions. That's called the Affordable Care Act. That's what the law does, in numerous ways. In fact, what Trump has done is to try to weaken that in every way. He has allowed for longer-term junk policies that are flooding the market and don't provide those protections. Those Trump-care policies that are screwing sick people are out there right now, keeping people from having their illnesses covered. He bragged about that in his speech.
Also, he's arguing explicitly before the Supreme Court that those protections should be tossed. In fact, he bragged about that too in his speech. Here's the thing: Nothing he's doing is real. Nothing he's doing is going to replace the Affordable Care Act. None of it is going to help the millions of people who survive coronavirus and will have a preexisting condition, if the Trump-controlled Supreme Court decides to ditch the law.
An executive order Is. Not. Law. Let's turn it over to Nicholas Bagley, law professor at the University of Michigan and health law expert. "Traditionally, executive orders are instructions to agency officials about how to exercise their congressionally delegated powers," he explains. "Maybe they should issue a new rule or set new enforcement priorities." But they are not law. They are, according to Bagley again, "internal memos with a fancy header. That's all they are."
Then he did this, during what was supposed to be a presidential address, not a campaign event. He said he is sending out what is essentially a bribe to seniors, a $200 payment to Medicare beneficiaries to pay for prescription drugs mailed out before the election. This is from a "Trump card" deal he tried to get out of drug companies while negotiating a major deal to lower drug prices. He demanded that $100 cash cards be sent to seniors just before the election and the industry left the negotiating table over that. They didn't want to pay for it.
So who's paying now? Who knows. That's $7 billion in payments that has not been appropriated by Congress—and he admitted it's purely political. "Joe Biden won't be doing this," he said. He didn't say where he's stealing that money from. The whole federal treasury is his slush fund.
Trump is trying to bribe seniors—while promising to end the payroll tax that funds Social Security and Medicare—with his $200 Trump cards, is signing two worthless pieces of paper, and will call it a day on health care.