Since taking office, President Trump has laid down an extensive record on health care, beginning on day one with his clearly-stated intention to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, and continuing through his most recent response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the Trump Administration has made or proposed many changes to health policies and programs that could have a significant impact on health coverage and health care.
President Trump’s record on health care illustrates his priorities. An incumbent president’s record is always relevant, but especially so for President Trump, who has not released more conventional campaign policy proposals. Moreover, the President’s response to the COVID-19 crisis, and its economic consequences could influence how voters view the president in terms of his character, his leadership and his ability to protect the nation – particularly given widespread and ongoing transmission of the virus in the U.S. and evidence that the U.S. has fared relatively poorly compared to peer nations.
From the start of his presidential term, President Trump took aim at the Affordable Care Act, consistent with his campaign pledge leading up to the 2016 election. He supported many efforts in Congress to repeal the law and replace it with an alternative that would have weakened protections for people with pre-existing conditions, eliminated the Medicaid expansion, and reduced premium assistance for people seeking marketplace coverage. While the ACA remains in force, President Trump’s Administration is supporting the case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the ACA in its entirety that is scheduled for oral arguments one week after the election.
The Trump Administration has moved forward on many other health care fronts. The Administration has proposed spending reductions for both Medicaid and Medicare, along with proposals that would promote flexibility for states but limit eligibility for coverage under Medicaid (e.g., work requirements). The President has made prescription drug prices a top health policy priority and has issued several executive orders and other proposals that aim to lower drug prices; most of these proposals, however, have not been implemented, other than one change that would lower the cost of insulin for some Medicare beneficiaries with diabetes, and another that allows pharmacists to tell consumers if they could save money on their prescriptions. The Trump Administration has also moved forward with an initiative to improve price transparency in an effort to lower costs, though it is held up in the courts. President Trump has made other policy changes that have had a direct impact on reproductive rights, immigration, and on other health care issues that convey his priorities for the future.
This issue brief provides a detailed overview of the Trump Administration’s record on health care issues, including major proposals and actions on health care during his tenure in office relating to: the Administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ACA and private insurance markets, Medicaid, Medicare, reducing prescription drug and other health care costs, sexual and reproductive health, mental health and substance use, immigration and health, long-term care, HIV/AIDS policy, and LGBTQ health. A separate resource compares President Trump’s record and proposals to those of former Vice President Biden.