Says Donald Trump "has supported a Canadian-style universal health care system."  

Erick Erickson on Tuesday, July 21st, 2015 in a column on

Conservative columnist: Trump once backed single-payer health care

Bill and Hillary Clinton chat with Donald Trump during the reception for his wedding to Melania Knauss in Palm Beach, Fla., on Jan. 22, 2005. (Getty Images)

The rise of Donald Trump is striking not merely because it has come so quickly, but because there’s much in his resumé that clashes with Republican orthodoxy.

Conservative columnist Erick Erickson ran down the list in a recent post on

Trump has given money to Democrats, including Hillary Clinton. He has supported abortion rights. And "he has supported a Canadian-style universal health care system," Erickson wrote.

We decided to look into Trump’s track record on health care.

The billionaire’s 2000 book The America We Deserve makes a strong pitch for universal health care.

"I’m a conservative on most issues but a liberal on this one," Trump wrote. "We should not hear so many stories of families ruined by health care expenses. We must not allow citizens with medical problems to go untreated because of financial problems or red tape."

When he turned to how the country might achieve universal coverage, Trump focused like a laser beam on a Canadian-style, single-payer plan. He said it would eliminate many billions of dollars of overhead.

"The Canadian plan also helps Canadians live longer and healthier than America," he wrote. "We need, as a nation, to reexamine the single-payer plan, as many individual states are doing."

Ever the pragmatist, Trump noted change would not happen overnight.

"While we work out details of a new single-payer plan, there are a number of ways to make the health care system now in place work more efficiently," Trump wrote.

So, it’s fair to say that in 2000, Trump supported a Canadian-style health care plan.

By 2011, his views had changed. As he contemplated a presidential bid, he told the audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., that "I will fight to end Obamacare and replace it with something that makes sense for people in business and not bankrupt the country."

In an interview with the New York Times, Trump backed away from a single-payer plan, as well as another of his proposals from a decade earlier, a surtax on the wealthiest Americans.

''We had a much different country when I proposed those two things,'' he said, according to the New York Times reporter.

We searched the Nexis database of news reports for any other views Trump might have voiced on universal health care between 2000 and 2011 and found none.

In a recent radio interview, Trump did not so much reject his previous support for a Canadian-style plan as describe, in a roundabout fashion, a totally different approach. He gave few details but said, "we're going to have great (private) plans," and that government should help people "at the lower levels."

"You can’t have a guy that has no money, that’s sick, and he can’t go see a doctor, he can’t go see a hospital," Trump said. "I mean, because I’m actually a conservative with a heart."

Our ruling

Erickson said that Trump has supported a Canadian-style universal health care system. Trump’s own book from 2000 affirms that. By about 10 years later, he had changed his position.

Erickson got it right. We rate this claim True.