An op-ed piece by Donald Trump in USA Today on Wednesday about health care was broadly criticized after it was found to contain many false statements.
On Thursday, USA Today published the findings from a lengthy fact checking analysis conducted by one of its partners, FactCheck.org.
The analysis concluded that Trump “made a series of false and misleading statements about Medicare and health insurance in general.”
Specific falsehoods or misrepresentation of the facts, according to the analysis, included Trump’s claims that the Medicare for All Act would cost $32.6 trillion and take away benefits, that Democrats have united around the Medicare for All Act, that he kept his promise to protect coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, and that premiums are decreasing because he created new health insurance options.
In a statement by USA Today Editorial Page Editor Bill Sternberg issued Wednesday afternoon, the news organization defended its choice to publish the president’s op-ed. Sternberg said Trump’s submission was treated the same way any other opinion submission would be by checking “factual assertions while allowing authors wide leeway to express their opinions.”
“USA Today Opinion provides a forum for a diversity of views on issues of national relevance,” Sternberg said. “We see ourselves as America’s conversation center, presenting our readers with voices from the right, left and middle.”
Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer took it upon himself to fact check the president on Wednesday, posting pictures of the op-ed with more than a dozen corrections written in red marker.
Trump’s assertion that he kept his campaign promise to “protect coverage for patients with pre-existing conditions” was false, as pointed out by both Schumer and FactCheck.org, because the Trump administration chose to side with a lawsuit that sought to rid the current health care law of its provision that requires insurance companies to cover those with pre-existing conditions.
The lawsuit, brought forth by 20 Republican state attorneys general in the summer, argued that by requiring pre-existing conditions to be covered and priced equally without an individual mandate, the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, would “allow individuals to game the system by waiting until they were sick to purchase health insurance, thereby increasing the price of insurance for everyone else.” Therefore, the law should be ruled unconstitutional.
The individual mandate required that every American purchase health insurance or face a tax penalty. Republicans omitted that provision in the president’s new tax plan, essentially undercutting the way the law was designed to work by offsetting older, sicker patients with younger, healthier ones.
The Department of Justice chose to support the June lawsuit but, rather than support its full repeal, advocated for the elimination of forcing insurance companies to accept people with pre-existing conditions. The DOJ also advocated to eliminate the provision that prohibits companies from charging people more with pre-existing conditions.