Why health care leaders are sounding an alarm about the danger of a Trump presidency

A bipartisan group including six former American Medical Association presidents say access to health coverage will fall while prices rise, and Americans need to pay attention.

by Mark Kreidler, Capital and Main

Some of the nation’s foremost health care leaders aren’t sure that Americans are paying much attention to the policies and practices that might accompany a second Donald Trump presidency. But those leaders certainly are.

They are chilled by the possibilities — and they’re banging the warning drums now, not later.

Because they’re not sure anybody is listening.

“You can disagree on foreign policy, domestic policy, economic policy — take your pick,” Dr. Andrew Gurman, former president of the American Medical Association, told Capital & Main. “But I think the most important thing in this election is health and health care — and under another Trump administration it will get more expensive and less accessible, especially for those at the margins. It’s not being discussed enough.”

Gurman is the co-author of a bipartisan letter recently released to the public about the likely dire U.S. health consequences if Trump wins another term. The letter is signed by 48 health care leaders including six former American Medical Association presidents, a former surgeon general and four former acting surgeons general.

Most of the signers are retired military. The group is a mix of Democrats, Republicans and Independents. About 40% did not state their party affiliation or are unaffiliated, a spokesman said.

“The possibility of Americans not receiving essential health care, either due to cost or lack of access, is among our greatest worries,” their letter says. “If he is elected president, Donald Trump will make our fears a reality.”

The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment. In response to a previous inquiry by Fox Digital News, a Trump spokesperson called the contents of the letter “outright lies,” but did not address them specifically.

The signers note that Trump tried and failed during his first term to kill Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act or ACA). The ACA provides government subsidies to help those who qualify to pay health care premiums and includes a portal to enroll. Trump now says he will “repeal and replace” the system if elected, but has presented no details.

Trump’s administration cut in half the amount of time people had each year to sign up for health care under the Affordable Care Act, and it struck down the individual mandate, which required people to have insurance. With the mandate eliminated and enrollment numbers subsequently going down, costs for the remaining insured went up.

Trump also tried to gut $7 billion in funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provides low-cost insurance to kids whose parents struggle financially yet make too much to qualify for Medicaid. Many of those families, Gurman said, will otherwise wind up not seeing a doctor until they become so sick that they have to go to the emergency room — the most expensive form of care.

Trump has made it clear he wants to defund — and bring under political control — such governmental safeguard agencies as the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration.

“If you don’t have institutions like the NIH, CDC and FDA to say, ‘No, Ivermectin won’t work against COVID and no, you shouldn’t inject bleach’ — that’s what keeps me up at night,” Gurman said. “Based on past experience with a Trump administration, it’s pretty dark.”

Most people who paid attention during Trump’s term in office wouldn’t be surprised by the contents of the letter. It’s the sense of urgency that is so striking. For all the impressive credentials attached to the group, it’s clear the signers feel they have to fight for political bandwidth in a country that at times seems almost inured to warnings associated with Trump.

So they came out swinging.

Responding to Fox’s inquiry about the letter, Trump spokesperson Karoline Leavitt said, “While President Trump is running to make less expensive healthcare options available for people without eliminating the Affordable Care Act, (President) Joe Biden is destroying Obamacare and the entire health care system with his open borders invasion…Day 1 of a Trump Administration, we will seal the border, deport the illegals and cut off their government benefits.”

But Trump’s past actions and stated plans go much deeper than that. “We believe a second Trump term would be harmful to the health of American families,” the signers write. “We urge Americans of all stripes to reject him and his policies.”

The fact that the signers felt the need to get the message out in May, well ahead of even the national conventions, says something about their concern that it’ll get lost in the shouting this summer over a Trump candidacy in general.

“Trump would do terrible damage to the health care people depend on, and so far, he has not been challenged on this issue,” said Dave Petri, communications co-chair of National Security Leaders for America, which distributed the letter.

These health care leaders are trying to do that. It could take more than one letter.

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