Trump brags about all he’s done for cancer patients. Give him the credit he deserves | Editorial

Posted Jan 14, 2020

There’s nothing quite like seeing President Donald Trump champion himself as a hero in the fight against cancer. It feels almost surreal.

“U.S. Cancer Death Rate Lowest In Recorded History!” he said on Twitter last week. “A lot of good news coming out of this Administration.”

And, to put a finer point on it: “I was the one who saved pre-existing conditions in your health care,” Trump declared on Monday.

It has the hallucinatory quality of so many of his pronouncements – remember “I am the chosen one”?

But this health care stuff is ominous, not just wacky. Make no mistake: Bragging about what he’s done for cancer patients is his way of gearing up to run on his health care lies again in 2020. So yes, by all means, let’s review his record.

Start with the cancer claim. The cancer death rate dropped before he ever took office, according to the American Cancer Society. Its experts attribute this to a decline in smoking, along with better drugs and screenings.

What Trump actually did was propose deep cuts to funding for cancer research, which Congress thankfully rejected, if you are looking for some heroes here.

The bigger lie, though, is the one about pre-existing conditions. Trump is the villain of that story, too.

He’s the reason why roughly 3.8 million people in New Jersey who suffer from a pre-existing medical condition like cancer or diabetes – and millions more throughout the country – have faced constant threats to their health care coverage.

The Affordable Care Act makes it illegal for insurers to deny people coverage or hike their rates, just because they’re sick. Otherwise, if cancer survivors or diabetics suddenly lost their jobs and employer coverage, many couldn’t afford another plan. And that’s not all.

Before the ACA, even those with insurance had to pay for preventative screenings. That’s all free now under Obamacare, so people are much more likely to get physical exams and detect their cancer early.

Enter Trump. He was elected promising “insurance for everybody,” “something terrific.” It would include protections to cover the costs of the very sick, he promised.

Yet he’s been trying to slip those ACA protections through the shredder ever since.

He tried multiple times to repeal the ACA, with no viable plan to protect the millions of Americans stripped of coverage. He failed by a single vote in Congress, cast by John McCain, shortly before he died of brain cancer.

Again, it was Congress that ultimately stopped Trump from killing health coverage for millions, much as it stopped him from slashing funding for cancer research.

Now he’s trying to do the very same thing in court. First the Trump administration filed a formal request, specifically declaring that it wants to eliminate protections for people with pre-existing conditions like cancer, calling them unconstitutional.

Then it broadened its case, in an effort to overturn the entire law.

We probably won’t get a ruling until after the 2020 election. So Trump could be re-elected on this very same promise of “insurance for everybody,” something “terrific.” Then his final bomb will drop on the health insurance marketplace.

New Jersey has been trying to shore up Obamacare with its own legislation, in case the law gets killed in court. But at least 500,000 people in our state would lose coverage right away. Our state doesn’t have the money to keep them in Medicaid all on its own, without funding from the federal government. More would lose their coverage in ensuing years.

Lots of people whose loved ones have cancer, premature babies or kids with other pre-existing conditions voted for Trump in the last election. Based on this record, should they trust him again?

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