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C. Eugene Emery Jr.
By C. Eugene Emery Jr. March 21, 2016

Club for Growth claim ignores key points of Donald Trump's stand on healthcare coverage

Club For Growth is trying to make it appear that Donald Trump is in favor of more government-run health care.

In a television ad attacking the billionaire Republican, the conservative Washington-based anti-tax group features a female announcer stating, "Some people think government-run, taxpayer-paid health care is a disaster, and some don't."

The commercial cuts to Democrat Hillary Clinton promising "we will have quality affordable healthcare for every American," and then to CBS News anchor Scott Pelley questioning Trump by declaring, "Universal healthcare," and Trump responding, "I'm going to take care of everybody."

There's a quick cut back to Pelley asking, "Who pays for it?" and Trump responding, "The government's going to pay for it."

The announcer continues, "Ask Donald Trump why he sides with Hillary Clinton and why he wants more government healthcare."

For this fact check, we will try to look at whether Club For Growth was accurately depicting Trump's stand.

In the Republican debates, Trump has repeatedly called for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Obamacare is not government-run health care. It is, however, a system of private insurance plans where the government sets minimum standards for those plans, helps people compare plans and sign up for a plan through a "marketplace," subsidizes some of the cost for low-income people, and penalizes people who don't purchase a plan.

Trump has consistently characterized that system as "a disaster."

So why is Club for Growth saying that Trump wants more government healthcare?

First, we checked to see if the group accurately portrayed what Trump said.

We located the Pelley interview and found the group had taken his points out of context. The interview aired on 60 Minutes on Sept. 27.

As always, Trump attacks the act.

"What's your plan for Obamacare?" Pelley asks.

"Obamacare's going to be repealed and replaced," says Trump. "Obamacare is a disaster if you look at what's going on with premiums where they're up 45, 50, 55 percent." (A claim with cherry-picked data that PolitiFact later ruled to be Half True.)

Pelley asks, "How do you fix it?"

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"There's many different ways, by the way. Everybody's got to be covered," says Trump. "This is an un-Republican thing for me to say because a lot of times they say, 'No, no, the lower 25 percent that can't afford private.' But —"

At this point, Pelley seems to interrupt. "Universal health care?" he asks.

"I am going to take care of everybody," Trump says. "I don't care if it costs me votes or not. Everybody's going to be taken care of much better than they're taken care of now."

Pelley: "The uninsured person is going to be taken care of how?"

Trump: "They're going to be taken care of. I would make a deal with existing hospitals to take care of people. And, you know what, if this is probably —"

Pelley: "Make a deal? Who pays for it?"

"The government's gonna pay for it," Trump says. "But we're going to save so much money on the other side."

Yet in the next breath, the candidate seems to talk about people buying their own plans, a key point Club for Growth has left out.

"But for the most part, it's going to be a private plan and people are going to be able to go out and negotiate great plans with lots of different competition with lots of competitors with great companies and they can have their doctors, they can have plans, they can have everything," he says.

We note that some of the goals Trump is talking about are very similar to the goals of Obamacare, which was an attempt to get everyone covered, let private plans provide the coverage, let the private plans compete for customers and let people have their own doctors. (That last element wasn't fulfilled for some people who found they could not, despite President Barack Obama's vow, keep their old health plan and, by extension, may have been forced to use a different physician.

In addition, although he told Pelley, "Everybody's got to be covered," the healthcare plan on his website calls for eliminating the Obamacare penalty for not purchasing insurance. "No person should be required to buy insurance unless he or she wants to," it says.

Trump has also expressed support for other ideas that go beyond the ACA, such as letting insurers market the same plans across state lines, letting taxpayers deduct health insurance premiums the way businesses do, expanding the use of Health Savings Accounts so any member of a family can tap into it without penalty and make them inheritable, and allowing the government to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies for lower drug prices, a change in federal law that, he says, would save about $300 billion a year.

But none of these proposals constitute more government-run, government-paid healthcare, and Trump has said he opposes a single-payer system.

We contacted both Club for Growth and the Trump campaign about the ad and Trump's plans, but we didn't get a response.

Our ruling

Club for Growth says Trump promises "to take care of everybody (through government-run healthcare and) the government's going to pay for it."

It's clear from Trump's website and some of his public comments that he wants a market-based approach to healthcare, not a system run by the government, which makes the Club for Growth ad wrong.

Because Trump wants a program to cover the poor — "the lower 25 percent that can't afford private" insurance — doesn't mean, as the ad contends, that "he wants more government healthcare." After all, the poor already get health coverage under Medicaid, which is jointly funded by the states and the federal government.

We rate Club for Growth's claim False.

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Club for Growth claim ignores key points of Donald Trump's stand on healthcare coverage

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