The final presidential debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden kicked off Thursday evening with a heated exchange about how the country has responded to the coronavirus pandemic. At one point, Trump bragged about the COVID treatment he received under his government-sponsored health care plan. But ironically, Trump's boasting comes as his administration has pushed the Supreme Court to gut the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
"Trump is bragging about his government-sponsored healthcare (sic) while suing to outlaw the ACA," comedian and actor Patton Oswalt pointed out in a tweet early in Thursday's debate.
After testing positive for COVID-19 earlier this month, Trump received some of the best medical care in the country, much of it at no cost to him. He touted that care, which is ultimately government-sponsored, at Thursday's debate when asked how how he planned to steer the country out of the next stage of the global coronavirus pandemic.
"I can tell you from personal experience, I was in the hospital," Trump said. "I had it and I got better and I will tell you that I had something that they gave me. A therapeutic, I guess they would call it. Some people could say it was a cure. But I was in for a short period of time and I got better very fast or I wouldn't be here tonight and now they say I'm immune."
As president, Trump receives free health care from the White House Medical Unit and is able to receive top-notch medical care at any American military hospital. According to The Los Angeles Times, military hospitals don't typically charge presidents for outpatient care and fees for inpatient care can be waived by the hospital’s commander. If billed, the president would be responsible for copay and deductibles as outlined in whichever federal insurance plan the president has selected.
Most Americans, however, don't get the option of having their medical fees waives. What's more, as NPR has reported, upwards of 20 million people stand to lose their health insurance (during a global public health pandemic no less) if the Supreme Court rules in favor of eliminating the ACA as Trump has urged them to do.
The Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments in a lawsuit arguing the ACA was invalidated following the elimination of the individual mandate, which Supreme Court justices cited as their reasoning for saving the law in 2012. In recent days, Trump has made no secret of his desire to see the ACA eliminated.
"I hope they end it," Vox reported Trump told 60 Minutes reporter Lesley Stahl in an interview released by Trump's campaign prior to CBS airing the footage. "It'll be so good if they end it."
But while Trump has continued to push for the ACA's elimination, he's yet to reveal how he plans to replace it. Meaning millions of Americans could be left without health care as the nation struggles with the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all of Romper’s parents + coronavirus coverage here.