During an appearance on "The Dr. Oz Show" that aired Thursday, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said the United States "[has] to help" people who can't afford private insurance "through the Medicaid system."
Dr. Mehmet Oz—who last year came under criticism for his controversial health recommendations and potential conflicts of interest—asked Trump what he would do "with the folks who fall through the cracks" and can't afford private coverage.
Trump responded that if you can't afford a private plan, "and there is a percentage, a fairly large percentage that can't afford it, then those people don't get taken care of ... We're going to take care of that through the Medicaid system."
He added, "We have no choice. We're not going to let people die on the streets."
Michelle Cortez and Zachary Tracer report for Bloomberg News that Trump's comments indicated he would use Medicaid to expand coverage. However, Trump campaign spokesperson Jason Miller told Bloomberg that Trump "has been consistent on this issue since he announced his campaign—he believes that Medicaid should be used as a safety net for the poor to ensure that nobody in America falls through the cracks."
Trump's formal health plan on his website calls for repealing the Affordable Care Act—which also would repeal the law's Medicaid expansion—and turning Medicaid into a block grant for states. Last September, Trump told CBS' "60 Minutes" that if elected he "would make a deal with existing hospitals to take care" of low-income people who otherwise could not afford coverage. He said that the "government's gonna pay for it," but that it would "save so much money on the other side." He did not offer additional details.
Trump endorses making birth control available over the counter
Trump also told Oz that women should be able to receive birth control without a prescription. He said, "You have women that just aren't in a position to go get a prescription."
FDA has not approved hormonal patches and pills for over-the-counter sale, although California, Oregon, and Washington allow pharmacists to sell hormonal contraceptives without a physician's prescription.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has endorsed making oral contraceptives available without a prescription. However, some groups, including Planned Parenthood, have expressed concern that such a proposal could increase out-of-pocket costs if insurers are not required to cover contraceptives when purchased over-the-counter (Muchmore, Modern Healthcare, 9/15; Hagen, The Hill, 9/15; Scutti, CNN, 9/15; Cortez/Tracer, Bloomberg, 9/15; Cillizza/Blake, "The Fix," Washington Post, 9/15).
With Trump or Clinton, what will happen in the next era of health care reform?
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