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Fact check: Trump's talk on preexisting conditions doesn't match his administration's actions

Shefali Luthra, Kaiser Health News on

Published in Health & Fitness

Delivering remarks on surprise medical billing, which is a concern that has drawn bipartisan interest, President Donald Trump waded into another high-profile health issue: making sure insurance protects people who have preexisting health conditions.

"We will always protect patients with preexisting conditions, very importantly," Trump said on May 9.

It's natural Trump would want to make this claim.

Polling from the Kaiser Family Foundation suggests that such protections, which prohibit individual insurance plans from charging people more based on their medical history, are a top priority for Americans and among the most popular provisions of the Affordable Care Act. (KHN is an editorially independent program of the foundation.)

With that context, we decided to put a microscope to the president's claim.

We asked White House staff to point us to the policies or proposals on which Trump's statement was based. They declined to provide specifics but reiterated the president's assertion.

 

Texas V. Azar, and a health policy vacuum

Interviews with four separate experts, though, suggested that the administration's stance on a pending lawsuit that seeks to overturn the Affordable Care Act runs counter to Trump's claim.

The case, known as Texas v. Azar, comes from a group of Republican attorneys general who argue that the entire health law should be struck because the 2017 tax bill gutted Obamacare's requirement to have insurance, often called the individual mandate. In December, a Texas judge agreed.

The case is now before the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. And, most relevant here, the Department of Justice -- that is, the Trump administration's legal arm -- has refused to defend the ACA in these proceedings.

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