President Donald Trump said during a press briefing Tuesday that the White House will "see if [it] can help" uninsured people in the U.S. who contract the coronavirus, a remark that—as observers hastened to point out—came as his administration is supporting a Republican lawsuit currently before the Supreme Court that could rip Affordable Care Act protections from more than 20 million Americans.
"How about dropping the lawsuit that will kick another 20 million off of insurance?"
—Dr. Rob Davidson, Committee to Protect Medicare
"Well, we're going to look at the uninsured because they have a big problem," Trump said during a roundtable briefing at the National Institute of Health's Vaccine Research Center in Bethesda, Maryland. "And we're going to look at the uninsured people that—you know, this came—it was a surprise to all of us. It just happened. It shows what can happen in life."
"But we're going to be looking at the uninsured and see if we can help them out," the president added.
Trump on people w/o health insurance w/ coronavirus: "They have a big problem & we're going to look at the uninsured people that, you know, this came out as a surprise to all of us. It just happened. It shows what can happen in life ... [we're gonna] see if we can help them out" pic.twitter.com/nolTXDpdPU
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 3, 2020
Dr. Rob Davidson, an emergency care physician and executive director of the Committee to Protect Medicare, tweeted a suggestion to the president: "How about dropping the lawsuit that will kick another 20 million off of insurance?"
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Protect Our Care communications director Annie Shoup pointed out that "the number of uninsured Americans has gone up by seven million people during Trump's presidency, complicating the response to the coronavirus."
"But don't worry," Shoup added sardonically, "they're gonna see if they can help them out."
The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that the Trump administration is "considering using a national disaster program to pay hospitals and doctors for their care of uninsured people infected with the new coronavirus as concerns rise over costs of treating some of the 27 million Americans without health coverage." A Department of Health and Human Services official confirmed to the Senate that the administration is weighing such a plan.
As HuffPost's Matt Fuller and Arthur Delaney noted, Republican members of Congress who have "spent their entire political careers railing against Obamacare and socialized medicine" are voicing support for the White House proposal.
"You can look at it as socialized medicine," said Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.). "But in the face of an outbreak, a pandemic, what's your options?"