Trump Official Just Told A Dangerous Lie About Universal Healthcare

March 19th 2017

Willie Burnley Jr.

A Trump administration official seemed to imply that the only road to universal healthcare would require doubling-down on mass incarceration in the United States. That might come as a surprise to nations that offer the benefit while America outpaces any other country's incarceration numbers.

White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney told CBS’s “Face The Nation” on Sunday, “The only way to get truly universal care is to throw people in jail if they don’t have it."

The declaration came amid an exchange in which anchor John Dickerson was pressing Mulvaney on the impact of replacing the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) with the Republican American Health Care Act. The new legislation would raise costs for low-income elders while increasing the uninsured rate. When Dickerson brought up that then-candidate Donald Trump had essentially promised universal health care, Mulvaney pushed back against the prospect of government forcing people to buy health insurance.

“We don’t have universal; the only way to have universal care, if you stop to think about it, is to force people to buy it under penalty of law,” Mulvaney said, contradicting Trump’s previous statement.

It is worth noting that the current Republican plan, which Mulvaney defends, includes a hefty new fee for anyone whose insurance lapses for longer than 63 consecutive days in a prior year. Before being allowed to purchase a new plan, those insurance buyers would be required to pay their insurer a penalty of 30 percent of the premium.

Mulvaney’s intention seemed to be calling attention to how the individual mandate, originally promoted as a conservative concept meant to push personal responsibility, had not been successful in creating universal coverage given that there are still around 29 million uninsured Americans. However, his assertion that further incarceration would be necessary isn't reflected by existing universal healthcare models around the world.

Taiwan’s universal health care program, which was created to cover the half of its population that was uninsured, spends less per capita for its health care than the United States does under Obamacare or the new Republican plan. Universal coverage in the United Kingdom is similarly cheap compared to our non-government system. Both of these countries combined do not have the per capita incarceration rate of the United States, a country without what Mulvaney presumes would be the incarceration-inducing specter that is universal health care.