Trump's State of the Union pledged to protect health coverage for pre-existing conditions - but he's been fighting the opposite battle in court

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. February 4, 2020. REUTERS/Leah Millis/POOL

Reuters

U.S. President Trump delivers State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol in Washington

  • Trump pledged to protect health coverage for patients with pre-existing conditions at the State of the Union address on Tuesday.
  • "I've also made an ironclad pledge to American families: We will always protect patients with pre-existing conditions," he said.
  • But his claim is undercut by his administration's support of a lawsuit that would overturn Obamacare in its entirety - and gut those protections.
  • Democrats, such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, pounced on the president for making the pledge.
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In President Trump's State of the Union address on Tuesday evening - an event full of bombast, political promises, and misleading claims - there was one vow that stood out.

"I've also made an ironclad pledge to American families: We will always protect patients with pre-existing conditions," Trump said.

But it's a false claim. His administration backs a lawsuit seeking to overturn the law protecting those same patients, and it has also taken steps to weaken the Affordable Care Act, such as allowing the sale of insurance that lacks those guardrails.

Democrats immediately seized on it, assailing Trump for trying to undercut the ACA, which bars insurers from rejecting coverage for people based on their medical history, including treatments for cancer or asthma.

"President Trump's address tonight gave no comfort to the 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions or the families struggling to afford the prescription drugs they need," Pelosi said in a statement. "Once again, President Trump was not truthful about his actions in court to destroy pre-existing condition protections."

Pelosi notably tore up Trump's speech at the very end.

Trump has made a variation of the claim in recent weeks, at one point saying he "saved" those protections.

After failing to repeal and replace the law through Congress in 2017, the Trump administration has thrown its support behind a GOP lawsuit in federal court that would strike down the entire law if it succeeds.

If it succeeds, an estimate from the Urban Institute found 20 million people could lose their health insurance as a result of eliminating the law's coverage expansions and protections for Americans with pre-existing health conditions.

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