Trump's First Joint Address to Congress: What he Said About Healthcare, in 3 Points

Written by Molly Gamble and Emily Rappleye | March 01, 2017 | Becker's Hospital Review

President Donald Trump's "message of unity and strength," which he delivered in his first joint address to Congress Tuesday evening, contained an overview of his vision on ACA reform.

Here are three things the president said about the ACA, the Republican replacement plan and other issues in the healthcare industry.

1. President Trump laid out five principles to guide Congress as the administration moves to repeal and replace the ACA. Those are:

Ensure those with preexisting conditions have access to coverage, and people insured through the healthcare exchanges undergo a stable transition despite policy changes.

Help Americans purchase their own coverage by using tax credits and expanded health savings accounts.
Allow state governors flexibility with Medicaid and equip them with the needed resources for the program.
Implement legal reforms to protect patients and physicians from unnecessary costs that drive health insurance prices, and immediately lower the high drug prices.

Enable the sale of health insurance across state lines to create a more competitive national marketplace.
In particular, President Trump's stances on Medicaid and tax credits are of note. Since an old draft reconciliation bill to repeal the ACA was leaked last Friday, conservative Republicans have spoken out against plans with refundable tax credits and Republican governors continue to be critical of plans that would repeal Medicaid expansion and replace it with block grants or per capita funding. The leaked bill — which GOP leaders say is already out-of-date — would have allotted age-based tax credits starting at $2,000 per person for those under age 30 and up to $4,000 per person for people over age 60. It also outlined plans to roll back Medicaid expansion, replace it with a per capita cap format and restore disproportionate share hospital payments.

2. President Trump's high-level outline of a healthcare law replacement did not come without criticism of the ACA, which he described as "this imploding Obamacare disaster." Here are three specific pieces of criticism:

"Remember when you were told that you could keep your doctor, and keep your plan? We now know that all of those promises have been broken."

"Obamacare premiums nationwide have increased by double and triple digits. As an example, Arizona went up 116 percent last year alone."

"One-third of counties have only one insurer on the exchanges — leaving many Americans with no choice at all."

3. President Trump noted he delivered his speech on Rare Disease Day and tailored remarks to Megan Crowley, a 20-year-old woman in the audience who has Pompe disease. When Ms. Crowley was diagnosed at 15 months old, she not expected to survive past age 5. Her father founded a company that helped develop the drug that ultimately saved Ms. Crowley's life.

Mr. Trump said the Food and Drug Administration's slow approval process "keeps too many advances, like the one that saved Megan's life, from reaching those in need." He proposed Congress "slash the restraints, not just at the FDA but across our government," but did not specify which restraints he wants to see eliminated.

© Copyright ASC COMMUNICATIONS 2017.

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