President Donald Trump suggested Wednesday he would consider opening up Medicare and Medicaid to nearly 30 million uninsured Americans due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The suggestion was a surprise to many considering that Trump has been fighting to terminate the Affordable Care Act since he was sworn in as president.
According to Business Insider, Vice President Mike Pence was questioned by Fox News White House correspondent John Roberts on the administration’s decision this week not to temporarily reopen the Affordable Care Act’s marketplace to allow uninsured Americans to purchase coverage during the pandemic.
“There will be people who don’t have insurance who get sick before any of these mitigation efforts are put into place,” Roberts said. “And without opening the healthcare exchanges, where can they find insurance? People who aren’t insured by these companies that are covering the cost of the copays, where can people go, now, to get health insurance if they get — before they get sick?”
Pence bypassed the question, instead stating that Medicaid and some American health insurance companies were making “inspiring” decisions to waive copays on coronavirus testing and treatment.
Trump then stepped in and acknowledged the question was fair and Pence skillfully dodged it.
“John, I think it’s a very fair question though, and it’s something we’re really going to look at, because it doesn’t seem fair,” Trump said. “If you have it, you have a big advantage. And at a certain income level you do.”
Trump said he believed he would “get to” addressing the problem and accused “the other group,” presumably Democrats, of ignoring it.
“I think we’re going to get to it,” Trump said. “I don’t think the other group will get to it. They haven’t even spoken about it.”
However, almost immediately Trump backtracked on his comments saying he’s not “committing” to doing anything.
“I can’t commit,” he said. “I have to get approval from it. I have thing called ‘Congress.’ But it’s something we’re going to look at, and we have been looking at it.”
Democrats and health insurance companies have been pushing Trump to reopen the Affordable Care Act marketplace. Presidential candidate Joe Biden took to Twitter saying keeping it closed “will cost lives.”
The exchanges will still be open to those who recently lost their jobs, including the millions of Americans who have recently become unemployed as a result of the pandemic.