Plenty of people who say they support Donald Trump do so with this caveat: I may not like the way he says something but look at what he’s done. Problem is, when you take a closer look at what Trump has done to hurt the livelihoods and healthcare of his base that argument quickly falls apart.
In Ohio, for example, where our 60-plus population is growing more than 20 times faster than our overall population, healthcare and retirement security issues dominate conversations as growing concerns. Despite what Trump says, or how he says it, what he has done threatens both medical coverage and financial lifelines critical to aging and disabled Ohioans. Do not be fooled into thinking Trump has your back when his budget proposals fray the social safety nets you and so many others may depend on to survive.
Take pre-existing medical conditions. As people get older, they tend to develop more health problems, including chronic conditions like congestive heart failure, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. Before the Affordable Care Act, (Obamacare) older adults who needed to buy insurance were more likely to be charged higher premiums or denied coverage. In 2016, Trump called Obamacare a “disastrous law” that he would repeal outright— “it’s going to be so easy”— and replace it with “such great healthcare at a fraction of the cost.”
Trump has done neither. The repeal, that he promised as his first act in office, failed dramatically after nationwide protests from many Americans— old and young— with pre-existing conditions who finally had health insurance they could afford under the ACA. Despite its welcomed benefits to millions of newly insured patients with pre-existing conditions, Trump continued his attack against Obamacare by making it more difficult for people to enroll in the ACA, by gutting key provisions of the law to weaken it, and by trying to cancel it entirely in an ongoing federal lawsuit.
That’s what Trump has done---and is doing to threaten and erode affordable healthcare. It is no coincidence that the number of uninsured Americans is rising for the first time since Obamacare was passed. Trump has done nothing to replace coverage. So the most vulnerable among us, the aging, the poor, children, skip doctor’s appointments, leave prescriptions unfilled, forgo vaccines. This is real life in Ohio. People are losing protections as a result of Trump’s actions to totally overthrow a popular health care law in court or effectively destroy it with limited access and eligibility.
Trump is suddenly embracing the favorite elements of Obama and saying things about protecting people with pre-existing conditions. Forget what he says. You know better. Look at what he has done and what his budget threatens to do with more cuts to Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security.
David Pepper is chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party.