Remarks by President Trump on the America First Healthcare Plan
Duke Energy Hangar Charlotte, North Carolina September 24, 2020 4:56 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you very much. So many doctors. So many fantastic doctors, nurses. That's great. Please, sit down.
I'm thrilled to be here in North Carolina with so many of these unbelievable professionals, doctors, nurses, and amazing healthcare workers. It's really an honor of mine.
As the world witnessed during our battle against the China virus, America has the greatest medical professionals anywhere on Earth.
Today, I will lay out my vision for a healthcare system that puts patients first, families first, and - perhaps most importantly for all of us - America first. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you.
Under the America First Healthcare Plan, we will ensure the highest standard of care anywhere in the world, cutting-edge treatments, state-of-the-art medicine, groundbreaking cures, and true health security for you and your loved ones. And we will do it rapidly, and it's in very good order, and some of it has already been implemented.
In short, we are delivering better care with more choice, at much lower cost, and working to ensure Americans have access to the care they need.
My plan expands affordable insurance options, reduces the cost of prescription drugs, will end surprise medical billing, increases fairness through price transparency, streamlines bureaucracy, accelerates innovation, strongly protects Medicare, and always protects patients with preexisting conditions. (Applause.) Thank you.
By contrast, the Democrat Party is pushing a socialist nightmare. Their plans will result in rationing care, denying choice, putting Americans on waitlists, driving the best doctors out of medicine permanently, and delaying lifesaving cures.
Over 130 Democrats in Congress, including Senator Harris, have endorsed legislation to outlaw the private health plans of 180 million Americans.
On top of it all, former Vice President Joe Biden promised to give free federal healthcare to anyone in the world who illegally crosses our border. His plan to provide government healthcare to illegal immigrants would bankrupt our healthcare system, collapse our hospitals, and destroy Medicare, while bringing millions and millions of people - lured - into our country. As long as I am President, we will safeguard our borders and our seniors.
We are pleased to be joined today by Secretary of Health and Human Services - done a great job - Alex Azar. Alex. Hi, Alex. (Applause.) Thank you. And very importantly, CMS Administrator Seema Verma. Thank you, Seema. (Applause.)
A great friend of mine and a great friend of healthcare, frankly, Senator Bill Cassidy. Bill. Hi, Bill. (Applause.)
Representatives Michael Burgess and Greg Murphy - so instrumental. Thank you. Thank you, fellas. (Applause.)
And many, many state and local officials are here with us. Thank you very much.
Since the plague arrived from China, we have seen our doctors, nurses, first responders, scientists, and researchers at their very best. We slashed red tape to accelerate the development of lifesaving treatments, reducing the fatality rate by 85 percent since April. Incredible.
Overall, Europe has seen an almost 50 percent greater excess mortality rate than that of the United States. And despite Europe's punishing lockdowns, they are now seeing a huge surge, very sadly, in cases.
Under Operation Warp Speed, my administration is developing a vaccine in record time. It will be distributed before the end of the year, and maybe quite a bit sooner than that. Four vaccines are now in the final stage of clinical trials. They're just about at the end. A lot of things are looking very good. It is the most ambitious vaccine program in U.S. history, probably in any history. The vaccines are being mass-produced in advance so they can be delivered within 24 hours of approval. The vaccine will be safe and it will be effective. It will defeat the virus and it will end the pandemic.
The economy will surge to record highs. You see what's happening with the numbers that are coming out - records all. Normal life will fully resume. That will be great. And next year will be one of the greatest years in the history of our country from an economic and, hopefully, in many other ways.
When I was elected, I inherited a thing called "Obamacare." Has anybody heard of Obamacare?
AUDIENCE: Booo -
THE PRESIDENT: It was terrible. That's the way I feel, too. (Laughter.) It was terrible and very, very expensive. Hurt a lot of people. Premiums were too high. Deductibles were a disaster. Patients had no choice. You couldn't keep your doctor. But, by far, the worst part of Obamacare was this thing called the "individual mandate."
As part of our largest-ever tax cut in the history of the United States, we put in a provision to kill this worst provision of Obamacare: the individual mandate. It was a disaster, and it was really the essence of Obamacare. It made you pay a tremendous amount of money in order to not have to pay for health insurance. Think of that: You had to pay a fortune in order not to have health insurance. It was really terrible and so unfair to so many. Destroyed families.
We were able to terminate the individual mandate, but kept the provision protecting patients with preexisting conditions. That would not have been - that particular law would never have been signed if it were otherwise. Obamacare is no longer Obamacare. As we worked on it and managed it very well. We stabilized it and got premiums down very substantially. That was Alex and that was Seema. You did a fantastic job.
But it's still unacceptable to me because it's too expensive and doesn't really do the job as well as we could have. So what we have now is a much better plan. It is no longer Obamacare because we've gotten rid of the worst part of it - the individual mandate - and made it much less expensive. A lot of that was through good management. We manage it properly. We have tremendous people working on it. Simultaneously with all of this, we are joining in a lawsuit to end this ill-conceived plan. I'm in court to terminate this really, really terrible situation.
If we win, we will have a better and less expensive plan that will always protect individuals with preexisting conditions. If we lose, what we have now is better than the original - the original version of Obamacare, by far. Much better. Much better. Again, we will always protect patients with preexisting conditions.
So today I'm laying out my vision for the future of American healthcare with the America First Healthcare Plan. As we restore America to full strength, the first healthcare plan will be a core part of our national renewal.
In a few moments, I'll sign an executive order outlining the three pillars of my plan and directing my administration to implement these critical reforms.
The first pillar of my plan is more choice - more choice for the American patients. (Applause.) Very important. The last administration severely restricted consumer choice through the greatest healthcare lie ever told: "If you like your plan, you can keep your plan. If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor." You remember that? Twenty-eight times that was stated by our President, but it turned out not to be true.
When I took office, more than 50 percent of counties nationwide offered plans from only a single insurance company on the individual market. Starting next month, more than 90 percent of the counties will have multiple options to choose from, which is really some difference. (Applause.)
Under our plan, you'll have the freedom to shop for the option that is right for you and your family. These options include new, affordable choices that cost up to 60 percent less than Obamacare. Think of that: 60 percent less.
For example, we're opening up short-term plans that are much cheaper than Obamacare and that can be customized to your individual needs. We're also offering association health plans that allow small businesses to pool together and offer more affordable policies to the employees. These are tremendous options that didn't exist before we came into office.
And through a massive expansion of health reimbursement arrangements, millions of Americans will be able to shop for a plan of their choice on the individual market and then have their employer cover the full cost. Furthermore, I'll work to make individual healthcare premiums fully tax deductible. That will be a big difference, all right? (Applause.) Through these and other reforms, we're putting American patients back in charge and we're putting them first.
My plan will also revolutionize access to telehealth. That's something that really has taken off during the pandemic. It's taken off like a rocket ship. (Applause.) It's increased close to 9,000 percent. Nobody was using it. And when we had the pandemic, they started using it. Then they started really liking it. Then it started getting better and better. Bill, now it's up to 9,000 percent. Who would think that, right? One of the few things that we got from this disaster that came from China.
When we rapidly expanded its availability for Medicare beneficiaries during the pandemic, the number of telehealth users increased so incredibly to 14,000 a week. It was 1.7 million. It was increasing at levels that nobody has ever seen before in just about any kind of a program. This is the future of healthcare. We will ensure all Americans have the freedom to consult with doctors from the safety and convenience of their homes.
The second pillar of my plan is lower costs for families and seniors - lower costs. (Applause.) For years, patients have been shocked to receive unexpected bills for thousands of dollars in medical services they never agreed to. The first America First Healthcare Plan bans this deeply unfair practice. We will end surprise medical billing. The days of ripping off American patients are over.
My plan also includes the vital reform of price transparency. (Applause.) And tra- - transparency is great for the great doctors, the good doctors, and it's also great for the great and good hospitals. That's where it's really fantastic: for them, too - in addition, obviously, to the patients.
For the first time ever, we will create true competition in healthcare. Both hospitals and insurance companies will be required to post all of their prices online. This transformative policy will allow you to see your exact out-of-pocket costs before you go for treatment, making it easy to shop for the best price. Costs will come way down. Some people think this will have a bigger impact than healthcare itself. It's a tremendous thing. No matter where it's been put, it's been an incredible service, and it's - it's worked miracles. It's been brilliant for patients.
Next, I'm taking on the lobbyists and the special interests to lower the price of prescription drugs. For years, American patients have subsidized socialist nations. (Applause.) And you know that. We talk about it all the time. Congress, they come over - we've been talking about it for a long time. They've been talking about it for years. They know the problem. But we've been subsidizing socialist nations and others by paying the highest drug prices in the world by far, and yet we're the largest purchaser of prescription drugs by far. And this is all while countries got away with paying so much less - so much less, incredibly less.
Under my plan, we will pay the exact same price as other countries. That's at the lowest level. So we will be matching the lowest price with what's now many times the highest price, and we won't pay a penny more. What will happen is the lower prices will come up a little bit, but you'll get discounts of 40, 50, 60, 80, 90 - who knows? - percent - numbers that you wouldn't even believe.
And we were the only ones in 52 years to bring drug prices down. Last year, they went down, as you know. (Applause.) But that was before this. They went down just a little bit, but just a little bit was the only time in 52 years. Now they're going to go down massively - favored nations. This will lead to a very large savings for American families and plummeting drug prices. They will plummet.
The Obama-Biden administration caved to Big Pharma and allowed drug prices to explode. The only bad part about this transaction is that they are advertising like crazy. "Make sure you don't elect Trump." And all it means is that your drug prices are coming down. So, it's a - it's incredible. They have unlimited money for ads, but they're taking ads. And every time you see an ad, just think that your drug prices are coming down.
I now understand why other politicians wouldn't do it, because it was a very easy thing to do. But it took a certain amount of courage, I will say that. (Applause.)
So it means that I'm taking on Big Pharma like never before. Nobody has done this before. They understood favored nations. Favored nations is you get the best prices, the lowest - no matter where it is anywhere in the world.
So if Germany is paying 10 cents for a pill, and we're paying two and a half dollars for the same exact pill - from the same place, same plant, same genius scientist, same everything, same laboratory - we get the same price as they do. You're talking about numbers that are unthinkable. Favored nations clause. So it's really something.