President Donald Trump insisted Sunday that the latest revision of his health care bill would guarantee coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions — a shift from language in the Republican replacement bill circulating in the House.
“We actually have a clause that guarantees,” Trump told “Face the Nation” host John Dickerson in a wide-ranging interview that aired Sunday morning and covered everything from health care to his views on North Korea to his feelings about the presidency, with the first 100 days under his belt.
Throughout the interview on CBS, Trump underscored the progress he has made in forging relations with foreign leaders over any domestic legislative accomplishments, which have proved more difficult for the self-described deal-maker. In the first 100 days of Trump’s presidency, his signature policies, such as repealing and replacing Obamacare, and instituting a Muslim ban, have failed or been held up by other branches of government.
The popular aspect of the Affordable Care Act — which mandates that patients with pre-existing medical conditions cannot be charged more for insurance than healthy people — appears at risk in the latest version of the House bill. In that version, states would have the option to opt out of the “community rating,” which prevents insurers from increasing premiums on people based on their health history and age.
But Trump insisted that is not the case.
“Pre-existing is going to be in there, and we’re also going to create pools,” Trump said of the revised health care bill that is still floundering in the House after a vote was tabled on Friday due to a lack of support.
After being pressed by Dickerson multiple times on whether coverage of pre-existing conditions would be left up to the states, Trump finally consented to utilizing the word “guarantee.”
“Pre-existing conditions are in the bill,” Trump insisted. “And I just watched another network than yours, and they were saying, ‘pre-existing is not covered.’ Pre-existing conditions are in the bill. And I mandate it. I said, ‘Has to be.’”
It was not the only time in the interview that Trump harped on his favorite foil, the press, as unfair and standing in his way.
Asked what he had learned after 100 days on the job, Trump, who waged a campaign against the “dishonest” media during the 2016 election, pointed again to the news outlets that cover him.
“One of the things I’ve learned is how dishonest the media is, really,” he told Dickerson during the latest in a string of interviews with the journalists he claims to hate as he has approached the 100-day marker. “I’ve done things that are, I think, very good. I’ve set great foundations with foreign leaders.” He pointed to his turnabout on NAFTA — which he claimed he was set to “terminate” until he received “a very nice call” from the president of Mexico, as well as a nudge from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and changed his mind.
He additionally claimed that he single-handedly stopped China from manipulating its currency. “I would say that I was the one that got them to stop,” he said. “It’s not going down anymore, their currency.” Economists generally agree China stopped devaluing its currency in 2015.
Pressed to detail something else he has learned, Trump conceded that changing the levers of government is difficult. “Things generally tend to go a little bit slower than you’d like them to go,” he said. “I think the rules in Congress and in particular the rules in the Senate are unbelievably archaic and slow-moving.” He said the system forces you to “make deals that are not the deal you’d make. You’d make a much different kind of a deal.”
He additionally blasted the Democrats for acting as obstructionists, singling out Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer as a “bad leader for the country,” and calling the handling of Justice Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation — one of his biggest accomplishments to date — a disgrace.
Trump — who still regularly touts his own surprise election win — also expressed respect for North Korean leader Kim Jung-un for taking power at a young age.
“A lot of people don’t like when I say it,” Trump stated, “but he was a young man of 26 or 27 when he took over from his father. … He’s dealing with obviously very tough people, in particular the generals and others. … Obviously, he’s a pretty smart cookie.”
But he did not explain what he would do in reaction to a nuclear test from North Korea.
“If he does a nuclear test, I will not be happy,” Trump said. When pressed on whether “not happy” meant taking military action in response, Trump demurred. “I don’t know,” he said. “I mean, we’ll see.”
Trump, who in a rare moment of self-reflection told Reuters in an interview last week of the job of the presidency, “I thought it would be easier,” appeared to backtrack slightly on that statement.
“Well, it’s a tough job, but I’ve had a lot of tough jobs,” he said. “I’ve had things that were tougher, although I’ll let you know that better at the end of eight years.”
He then hedged on whether he expected to stay in power for two terms. “Perhaps eight years. Hopefully, eight years. But I’ll let you know later on.” He also appeared to leave open the possibility of releasing his tax returns after his treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin, told reporters in the White House briefing room last week that Trump had “no intention” of releasing his tax returns. Trump told Dickerson he had never discussed the matter with Mnuchin.
Trump likewise refused to say that Russia was involved with meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
“Knowing something about hacking, if you don’t catch a hacker, OK, in the act, it’s very hard to say who did the hacking,” Trump said.
“With that being said, I’ll go along with Russia. Could’ve been China, could’ve been a lot of different groups.” That fit with Trump’s words as a candidate, when during one of the debates against the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, he said that the hack of the Democratic National Committee could have been perpetrated by “somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds.”