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Top Trump ally says president should ditch GOP’s health care plan, embrace universal care

One of President Donald Trump’s biggest allies is calling on the leader to abandon the House Republicans’ new Obamacare replacement plan, the American Health Care Act, and embrace his campaign promise of “insurance for everybody.”

According to a new report from the Congressional Budget Office, 14 million fewer Americans will have health insurance by next year — and a total of 24 million fewer by 2026 — under the Republicans’ health care proposal. While those numbers might be somewhat inflated, given some would likely choose to opt out of coverage altogether, it certainly falls short of Trump’s oft-repeated vow to insure everyone under a plan he said “the government’s gonna pay for” during a 2016 interview with CBS News’ Scott Pelley.

In an op-ed published Tuesday, Christopher Ruddy, CEO of the conservative site Newsmax, urged Trump to embrace a universal health care plan, warning that he “could inherit the bad political baggage of both Obamacare and the House Republicans” if he stays the course with House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Instead, Ruddy argued, Trump should buck Republican orthodoxy, abandon the conservative wing of the GOP and push a “Medicaid for all”-style plan. Ruddy wrote that the president “should be sticking to his own gut on health care reform” because it helped him “win Democratic states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.”

In his editorial, Ruddy lays out a 7-point “game plan” explaining exactly how he believes Trump should move forward on health care:

  1. Ditch the [House] Freedom Caucus and the handful of Senate Republicans who want a complete repeal of Obamacare. They don’t agree with universal coverage and will never be placated.
  2. Find a few parts of [the American Health Care Act] that can win passage in the House and Senate with either GOP support or bipartisan support. Declare victory.
  3. Rekindle the bipartisanship in Congress that Obama destroyed. Empanel a bipartisan committee to report back by year’s end with a feasible plan to fix Obamacare.
  4. Reject the phony private health insurance market as the panacea. Look to an upgraded Medicaid system to become the country’s blanket insurer for the uninsured.
  5. Tie Medicaid funding to states with the requirement each pass legislation to allow for a truly nationwide health care market.
  6. Get Democrats to agree to modest tort reform to help lower medical costs.
  7. While bolstering Medicare and improving Medicaid, get Republicans and Democrats to back the long-term fix of Health Saving Accounts. This allows individuals to fund their own health care and even profit from it.

In his op-ed, Ruddy seems to totally abandon traditional conservative principles regarding health care, asserting that Trump, on the campaign trail, took the “high moral ground” on health care and needs to stick to his guns on universal coverage now that he’s in the Oval Office.

“Trump won the presidency by trusting his own instincts and ignoring the GOP establishment, including its views on health care,” the Newsmax executive wrote. “Donald Trump staked out the high moral ground by calling for a feasible system of universal health care to replace Obamacare.”

As Vox pointed out, for a very long time, Democrats have pushed for the expansion of a program like Medicare, which offers coverage to seniors, to provide health care to all Americans. However, while Medicare is considered the better of the two, the cheaper Medicaid, which offers coverage to qualifying low-income families, costs the government less money. However, fewer and fewer doctors are accepting Medicaid because of its stingier reimbursement rates.

Ruddy argued in his article that, because both Obamacare and the AHCA require nearly every American to purchase insurance from a private insurance provider, no one is even considering a cheaper “Medicaid for all” option.

“You don’t need to be Warren Buffett to figure out the biggest financial beneficiary of Obamacare has been insurance companies,” he wrote. “Everyone was mandated to buy private health insurance. The legislation provided no caps on profits or cost controls. Insurance company stock prices soared as Obamacare became law.”

Here’s Vox’s breakdown of how a “Medicaid for all” program might work:

More affluent people would probably find Medicaid coverage to be excessively restrictive for their taste, in which case they would probably seek to obtain supplemental insurance — a practice that’s common in France and some other countries with national health care systems. But the private insurance system would exist as a layer on top of a basic blanket of security that guarantees health care fundamentals for everyone. You could certainly tack health savings accounts (Ruddy’s point 7) on top of this as well.

It’s not likely this proposal would get much traction on Capitol Hill, given Republicans have long stood their ground in opposition to government-run health care. Nevertheless, Ruddy wrote that Trump “shouldn’t retreat … no matter how much the establishment GOP dislikes it.”

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