On Thursday in North Carolina, Donald Trump announced something surreal: he was signing an executive order to offer Americans something they already have and that he has been desperately trying to take away. Trump’s order promises a “steadfast commitment to always protecting individuals with pre-existing conditions”—even while the Department of Justice is suing to invalidate the Affordable Care Act, the law that accomplishes this. While this announcement was both ridiculous and insulting, the other big headline from Trump’s speech has already blossomed into a full-blown scandal.
Promoting his latest snake oil known as the America First Healthcare Plan, Trump boasted that “33 million Medicare beneficiaries will soon receive a card in the mail containing $200 that they can use to help pay for prescription drugs.” The clueless fool was surely hoping that his pandering would win over seniors on Election Day. Instead, Trump’s brashness and ignorance about how government works threw a big question mark onto his plans.
Trump’s half-baked promise has an odd backstory. After months of difficult negotiations with the pharmaceutical industry to lower drug prices were nearing success, they broke down after Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows insisted the companies pay to send $100 gift cards for all seniors. Even though Meadows seemed to promise that Trump’s name would not appear on the cards, the companies refused to go along, citing the political optics plus the fact it’s just a lame idea, according to a report from the New York Times.
Rather than shelve the plan and heed the industry’s advice, Trump (of course) chose to proceed and double down, promising seniors a $200 card courtesy of Uncle Sam. Apparently, Trump’s plan was to leave the details about the card’s legality and affordability to his surprised underlings, who have since been finding more blockades and hurdles than Trump could have imagined. These expensive cards (carrying a total value of $6.6 billion) may wind up getting paid out of Medicare’s quickly diminishing trust fund, which could result in even higher premiums for seniors, according to an analysis by Slate.
If this latest Trump boondoggle somehow manages to move forward, White House officials now admit most seniors wouldn’t get their money until after Election Day, according to reporting from Inside Health Policy. So, Trump now risks that seniors might rethink their vote if their assistance doesn’t arrive “soon,” as he promised. Americans deserve honest and thoughtful leaders whom they can trust. The Biden-Harris administration stands ready to deliver for the American people, and they deserve our enthusiastic votes on November 3.