Fri, May 05, 2017 - Page 9 News List

Fact-checking Trump administration claims

By Calvin Woodward and Jim Drinkard  /  AP, WASHINGTON

Illustration: Mountain people

US President Donald Trump is promising that the latest Republican healthcare legislation will cover people with pre-existing conditions “beautifully.” Such reassurance is not to be found in the bill that has been under review.

In a TV interview on Sunday, an opinion piece in the Washington Post and a rally on Saturday night last week in Pennsylvania, Trump vigorously celebrated a 100-day stretch that actually produced little in the way of legislative achievement.

Meanwhile, his aides began a hard sell on his tax plan over the past week.

Here is a look at some assertions by the US president and his people:

TRUMP, on CBS’ Face the Nation: “When I watch some of the news reports, which are so unfair, and they say we don’t cover pre-existing conditions, we cover it beautifully... Pre-existing conditions are in the bill. And I mandate it. I said: ‘Has to be.’”

THE FACTS: Although the bill says “access” is guaranteed for people with pre-existing conditions, it is silent on a key point, whether such access must be affordable.

Former US president Barack Obama’s health law requires insurers to take all applicants, regardless of medical history, and patients with health problems pay the same standard premiums as healthy ones.

However, the Republican legislation would let states opt out of the requirement for standard premiums, under certain conditions. If a state maintains protections such as a high-risk pool, it can allow insurers to use health status as a factor in setting premiums for people who have had a break in coverage and are trying to get a new individual policy.

Such complications were in the proposed legislation under review last week, prompting the American Medical Association to say the Republican protections “may be illusory” and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network to worry that the plan could return the US to a “patchwork system” that drives up insurance costs for the sick.

It is possible Trump will demand stronger protections for sick people in the bill, but he said on Sunday that the legislation was already so good “they could have voted on Friday.”

TRUMP, on the first attempt to repeal and replace Obama’s law: “This bill has evolved. And we didn’t have a failure on the bill. You know, it was reported like a failure.”

THE FACTS: The first bill was pulled from Congress without a vote being taken, because it did not have enough support. The effort has evolved, but the bill flopped.

US SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY STEVE MNUCHIN, on Trump having “no intention” of releasing his own tax returns ever: “The president has released plenty of information and I think has given more financial disclosure than anybody else. I think the American population has plenty of information.”

THE FACTS: Trump has released less than other presidents in modern times.

By withholding his tax returns, Trump has fallen short of the standard followed by presidents since Richard Nixon started the practice in 1969.

During last year’s election campaign, Trump argued that he could not release his taxes because he was under an audit by the Internal Revenue Service. That reason did not hold up, because being under audit is no legal bar to a candidate from releasing tax returns. On Wednesday last week, Mnuchin seemed to abandon even that explanation.

What Trump has released are financial disclosure forms that list his assets and liabilities in broad ranges, required by law. However, those forms do not disclose precise numbers, and they include nothing about a person’s income or charitable giving — data disclosed only in tax returns.

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