Jordan Weissmann points out that we now have a health care plan from Donald Trump. For starters, Trump has now made clear that he doesn't like the individual mandate after all—he just misspoke when he said that to Anderson Cooper a few days ago. What's left are the three mighty pillars of Trump's plan. First, he's going to take care of the poor "through maybe concepts of Medicare." Second, the Trump campaign has previously indicated that it will "provide individual tax relief for health insurance." Third, after the scourge of Obamacare has finally been eradicated, the rest of us get this:
I will replace it with private plans, health savings accounts, & allow purchasing across state lines. Maximum choice & freedom for consumer.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 19, 2016
Amazingly, this is going to produce health care nirvana. "The plans will be much less expensive than Obamacare…you'll get your doctor, you get everything you want to get, it'll be unbelievable."
As Weissmann points out, this is just your bog-standard Republican health care plan with an extra dash of Trumpian crowing. It won't just work better than Obamacare, it will be unbelievable. In fact, "you get everything you want to get." How much more can you ask for?
To the extent that it makes any sense to discuss Trump's policy proposals, there are a couple of takeaways from this:
- Far from being a populist, Trump is just an ordinary Republican. He sometimes tosses out heterodox ideas in one of his rambling speeches, but they never last. With only a few exceptions, his advisers eventually talk him into adopting Republican orthodoxy in his usual amped-up, dumbed-down way. And the Republican orthodoxy on health care is almost literally a straitjacket: High-risk pools, HSAs, competition across state lines, tort reform, and tax credits for individual insurance. If we assume that "concepts of Medicare" includes high-risk pools, Trump has four of these—and he's undoubtedly in favor of tort reform too.
- Trump, like most Republicans, is apparently under the impression that the big problem with American health care is the evil, monopolistic insurance companies. "The insurance companies are making a fortune because they have control of the politicians," he said in one of the first debates. Liberals sometimes make this mistake as well, and it's ridiculous. If I had my druthers, I'd get rid of the insurance companies too, but it wouldn't do much to reduce the cost of health care. The fundamental cause of high health care costs in America is the high cost of health care itself. Compared to other countries, we pay our doctors more; we pay our nurses more; we pay more for drugs; we pay more for devices; and we pay more for hospitalization. If you don't tackle that, you'll never even make a dent.
So that's that. As usual, Trump is just a standard-issue Republican once the dust has settled, and he has no more idea about how to fix health care than any of the rest of them. He's just more willing than most to brag about how great his plan will be.