Jeb Bladine: Health care debate on a whimsical ride

America — albeit through backroom deliberations by a single political party — is struggling to design an efficient, humane and affordable health care system. As that national controversy continues to unfold, it’s distressing our president does not seem to know — or care — anything about the details.

Donald Trump wants a legislative victory, whatever the particulars. As a candidate, president-elect and newly-inaugurated leader, he said it would be easy to repeal-and-replace the Affordable Care Act for someone with his vast deal-making skills. But ever since he finally acknowledged that health care reform is complicated, Trump has avoided any discussion of specifics.

Columnist George Will put things into perspective in his June 30 interview with Brian Williams of MSNBC:

“The problem,” said Will, “is that the president doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”


Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

> See his column

However, Will followed up his statement with a sideways compliment: “It may be that the president’s pristine absence of knowledge about health care may help at this point … being ‘out of it’ probably is a good thing.”

Will’s point indicated Trump’s lack of knowledge meant he would not be getting in the way of Senate deliberations about health care details. Of course, that analysis came up short when the president began promoting health care policies that haven’t been part of the Senate debate.

This week, Trump injected his highly erratic thought process into the fray.

Monday, after it became clear that the Senate plan was languishing, Trump called for repeal of the Affordable Care Act without replacement.

Tuesday, the president switched gears by urging the country to simply let the current system fail. He told reporters: “We’re not going to own it — I’m not going to own it — I can tell you the Republicans are not going to own it … We’ll let Obamacare fail, and then the Democrats are going to come to us.”

Wednesday, Trump summoned all Republican senators to the White House for a lecture on the crucial need to repeal-and-replace the health care laws. The president’s related Tweet of the day read, “The Republicans never discuss how good their healthcare bill is, & it will get even better at lunchtime. The Dems scream death as OCare dies!”

Trump told senators they should not return home until they have a bill for him to sign, and he threatened senators who might oppose him with electoral consequences.

And so, as Americans watch with disbelief and confusion, the health care roller coaster continues its whimsical ride.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@newsregister.com of 503-687-1223.



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