USA Today is supposed to be a trusted name in news. On Wednesday morning, President Donald Trump published an op-ed in the paper that was littered with lies and disparaging remarks about Democrats, which USA Today decided to print without doing any fact-checking.
This, along with the president’s outright falsehoods about his political opposition, amounts to a full-scale assault on journalism and the free press.
Trump began by tearing into Democrats for their long overdue embrace of Medicare for all.
“Democrats across the country uniting around a new legislative proposal that would end Medicare as we know it and take away benefits that seniors have paid for their entire lives,” the president wrote, parroting what he’s been telling his followers at recent rallies.
Trump said of Medicare for all:
“The Democratic proposal would establish a government-run, single-payer health care system that eliminates all private and employer-based health care plans and would cost an astonishing $32.6 trillion during its first 10 years.”
While the price tag of single-payer was found to be around $33T over the next decade, that’s actually trillions less than what it could cost if we keep our current employer-based system in place.
Trump also boasted:
“Doctors and hospitals would be put out of business. Seniors would lose access to their favorite doctors. There would be long wait lines for appointments and procedures. Previously covered care would effectively be denied.”
Furthermore, Trump’s claim that Democrats want to totally eliminate private insurance and take away health care choices from the American people is demonstrably false.
In the Medicare for All Act of 2017 put forth by Democrats, choice is one of the most crystal clear components.
“Any individual entitled to benefits under this Act may obtain health services from any institution, agency, or individual qualified to participate under this Act.”
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), one of the most vocal proponents of MFA, explains on his website exactly what the goal is and why it’s so important. It builds upon the successes of the Affordable Care Act, expanding coverage to everyone.
“Universal single-payer health care means comprehensive coverage for all Americans. Bernie’s plan will cover the entire continuum of health care, from inpatient to outpatient care; preventive to emergency care; primary care to specialty care, including long-term and palliative care; vision, hearing and oral health care; mental health and substance abuse services; as well as prescription medications, medical equipment, supplies, diagnostics and treatments. Patients will be able to choose a health care provider without worrying about whether that provider is in-network and will be able to get the care they need without having to read any fine print or trying to figure out how they can afford the out-of-pocket costs.”
“We must build upon the success of the ACA to achieve the goal of universal health care. Twenty-nine million Americans today still do not have health insurance and millions more are underinsured and cannot afford the high copayments and deductibles charged by private health insurance companies that put profits before people.”
For the president to say that Democrats want to “end Medicare as we know it” by “implementing socialism” is an outright lie. Democrats want all Americans to have access to necessary coverage without having it break the bank or be subject to a faceless panel at a private insurance company making medical decisions that belong between patients and doctors.
Additionally, freeing businesses from the burden of providing health insurance to employees would liberate trillions of dollars in capital that could be used for many things – like higher employee pay, investment, and innovation – to name a few.
Trump also said the Democrat’s plan would “eliminate Medicare Advantage plans for about 20 million seniors as well as eliminate other private health plans that seniors currently use to supplement their Medicare coverage.”
That’s because the bill ensures that Medicare for all would render those supplementary plans unnecessary.
The bill states:
“In General.—Subject to the other provisions of this title and titles IV through IX, individuals enrolled for benefits under this Act are entitled to have payment made by the Secretary to an eligible provider for the following items and services if medically necessary or appropriate for the maintenance of health or for the diagnosis, treatment, or rehabilitation of a health condition:
(1) Hospital services, including inpatient and outpatient hospital care, including 24-hour-a-day emergency services and inpatient prescription drugs.
(2) Ambulatory patient services.
(3) Primary and preventive services, including chronic disease management.
(4) Prescription drugs, medical devices, biological products, including outpatient prescription drugs, medical devices, and biological products.
(5) Mental health and substance abuse treatment services, including inpatient care.
(6) Laboratory and diagnostic services.
(7) Comprehensive reproductive, maternity, and newborn care.
(9) Oral health, audiology, and vision services.
(10) Short-term rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices.”
The proposed law also calls for additional services, like hospice and other long-term types of care, to be managed by the states through an additional expansion of Medicaid – which would actually benefit seniors even more than the current system:
“(1) Nursing facility services for individuals 21 years of age or over described in subparagraph (A) of section 1905(a)(4).
“(2) Home health services described in section 1905(a)(7).
“(3) Nursing services described in section 1905(a)(8).
“(4) Rehabilitative services described in section 1905(a)(13).
“(5) Inpatient services for individuals 65 years of age or over provided in an institution for mental disease described in section 1905(a)(14).
“(6) Intermediate care facility services described in section 1905(a)(15).
“(7) Inpatient psychiatric hospital services for individuals under age 21 described in section 1905(a)(16).
“(8) Case management services described in section 1905(a)(19).
“(9) Personal care services described in section 1905(a)(24).
“(10) Nursing facility services described in section 1905(a)(29).
“(11) Home and community-based services provided under a State plan amendment under section 1915(i).”
Trump also lied when he said:
“As a candidate, I promised that we would protect coverage for patients with pre-existing conditions and create new health care insurance options that would lower premiums. I have kept that promise, and we are now seeing health insurance premiums coming down.”
As the Washington Post noted in their correction:
“Trump made this promise, but broke it. He supported Republican plans that would have weakened protections for individuals with preexisting conditions. His administration also has refused to defend the Affordable Care Act against a lawsuit that would undermine those protections. In effect, the Trump administration no longer supports a provision of the ACA, a.k.a. Obamacare, that makes it possible for people to buy insurance if they have preexisting health conditions. “
Trump, in his unhinged, “Old Man Yells at Cloud” tantrum, also accused Democrats of wanting to turn the United States into Venezuela through “socialism.”
“Virtually everywhere it has been tried,” Trump growled, “socialism has brought suffering, misery and decay.” He also claimed Democrats want to totally abolish our borders.
Whether or not you believe in the tenets of socialism is wholly irrelevant. The president is accusing a major political party of trying to mount a coup of democracy itself and is, therefore, yearning to intentionally harm American citizens. Trump’s words speak for themselves, and he has absolutely no evidence to back them up.
“Today’s Democratic Party is for open-borders socialism. This radical agenda would destroy American prosperity. Under its vision, costs will spiral out of control. Taxes will skyrocket. And Democrats will seek to slash budgets for seniors’ Medicare, Social Security and defense.”
Trump’s promise to protect Social Security and Medicare is not supported by any of his actions.
“I am committed to resolutely defending Medicare and Social Security from the radical socialist plans of the Democrats,” he said. If this were true, Trump would support lifting the income cap on payroll taxes. If this were true, Trump would work to ensure that no American, rich or poor, old or young, goes without necessary medical care, or that such medical care becomes a financial death sentence.
The dizzying stupidity of Trump’s argument is that Medicare is a government-run health insurance program. It is universally lauded as one of the most efficient in the world. Democrats seek to strengthen it and expand it to everyone so that health care isn’t in the hands of private, for-profit insurance conglomerates whose purpose is to make money for shareholders.
If the president cared about the tired, the poor, and the huddled masses, he would enact policies that empower them instead of the very rich.
USA Today could have verified all of this before printing the president’s fake news. They did not, however, and that is a slap in the face to journalism and will only embolden Trump to continue to abuse his power.
The press is supposed to be a check on power. Its duty is to get to the truth, not print whatever drivel our president decides to fire off in a pre-dawn tirade.
What USA Today printed was not an op-ed. It was not news. Opinions (which is what the ‘op’ stands for) require the backing of facts in order to be considered valid.
Instead, what we read was a shopping list of beliefs held by a man who doesn’t read, doesn’t learn, and manufactures his own reality in whatever way suits him at the moment – all so he can continue to gaslight his political base.
USA Today must be held accountable. By allowing the president to print lies, thus doing his bidding, USA Today is living up to Trump’s favorite line of attack against the press. To ignore the truth is to be an enemy of the people.