Susan Estrich - Be well

  • Published in Columns

He's at it again.

The Trumps have nothing to worry about. They have federal-government insurance — one of the best plans that money can buy, with the most options and the most comprehensive coverage.

It's good enough for the Trumps — though they are, after all, among the very few Americans who could actually afford to pay for their own health care if they got sick. This is not the 1 percent but the 0.1 percent. Lucky them.

Now if you, on the other hand, have ever been sick, or worse, seriously ill, if you have a child who suffers from a chronic illness or a parent who needs to see a doctor more than once a year: Beware.

If Donald Trump has his way, junk insurance is on its way back.

Junk insurance can kill you a whole lot faster than junk food. It covers almost nothing. You think you have insurance until you try to use it.

Then it's "sorry" time. As in, "Sorry, no prescription coverage." "Sorry, no preventive care." "Sorry, no expensive tests." "Sorry, no expensive drugs."

In America, you might be lucky enough to receive the best health care in the world — if your name is Trump, and your insurance card actually covers something.

Junk insurance is one of the things Obamacare got rid of. It wasn't because anyone was trying to take away inexpensive options. It was because it was a useless rip-off.

In announcing his new plan — really not a plan at all but a directive to agencies to do everything they can to scuttle the protections that even his own fellow Republicans in the Senate refused to do away with — Trump said that it would "increase access to lower-priced, high-quality health care options."

Liar. How stupid does he think we are?

How do you get lower-cost health insurance from private insurers that are in business to make money? There is only one way. It's not by issuing an executive order and then waiting to watch yourself on television, which is how it seems this president spends his day (with a few bathroom breaks built in so he can send out tweets so childish as to cause respected Republicans to compare the White House to a day care center for a badly behaved potentate).

The way private insurers offer lower-cost coverage is by covering fewer things that costs money: such as tests, treatments, and medicine.

The way you get lower-cost coverage is by excluding the people who need coverage most. Have a pre-existing condition? Take medicine regularly? Over the age of 50? Guess what? You're not getting lower-priced high-quality coverage from any private insurer on the planet. They are in business to make money, not lose it. And fewer regulations mean less coverage, less protection, and more profits.

No one is claiming that Obamacare is perfect. No one. But it needs to be fixed, and the way to fix it is to ensure that the markets for coverage work — not, as Trump is trying to do, to destroy them, weaken them, drive people to the point that they can't find decent coverage. Thanks to Trump, and the uncertainty he has created, Anthem — one of California's biggest insurers — is pulling out.

Trump's latest move won't bring them back. It will just create more uncertainty and fewer and more expensive options for all those who must now go out and find a new insurer.

I used to get chills when I went to Washington. No matter how many times I visited, no matter who was president, I got chills seeing the White House and the Capitol and the Supreme Court, the monuments and the mall. I was there last week on business. No chills anymore — just the shakes, and anger, about one man, and how he continues doing so much damage to everything so many of us cared about, worked for and believed in.

(Susan Estrich is a professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Southern California Law Center. A best-selling author, lawyer and politician, as well as a teacher, she first gained national prominence as national campaign manager for Dukakis for President in 1988.)