Health

A History of What Donald Trump Has Actually Said About Health Care

Published On 11/15/2016 Published On 11/15/2016

Whether you've spent the days after the election crying or celebrating, Donald Trump is the next president of the United States. One of the first issues he'll face is health care, a perpetually divisive topic in American politics.

Here's Donald Trump's official position on health care, but over the years his public statements have shifted. We've compiled some of his more notable quotes on the subject, to better understand what the president-elect thinks of our current system, and how he believes health care should actually function in this country. 

In the late '90s and early 2000s, he considered a presidential run and favored universal health care

Trump: "[I'm] liberal on health care, we have to take care of people that are sick."

Stone Phillips: "Universal health coverage?"

Trump: "I like universal, we have to take care, there's nothing else. What's the country all about if we're not going to take care of our sick?" -- Interview with Stone Phillips, 1998

Trump told Larry King he had liberal views on health care

"I'm quite liberal and getting much more liberal on health care and other things. I really say: What's the purpose of a country if you're not going to have defensive and health care?

"If you can't take care of your sick in the country, forget it, it's all over. I mean, it's no good. So I'm very liberal when it comes to health care. I believe in universal health care. I believe in whatever it takes to make people well and better."

"Obamacare can't be reformed, salvaged, or fixed. It's that bad."

"We could reduce taxes and take care of health care, and it would be beautiful, and you would have plenty of money left over."

"[Health care] is an entitlement to this country, and too bad the world can't be, you know, in this country. But the fact is, it's an entitlement to this country if we're going to have a great country." -- Interview with Larry King, 1999

He wrote a book in which he advocated for a universal system

"Working out detailed plans will take time. But the goal should be clear: Our people are our greatest asset. We must take care of our own. We must have universal health care."

"We need, as a nation, to reexamine the single-payer plan, as many individual states are doing. But implementing such a plan is not simple. One major problem is that the single-payer plan in Canada is in financial difficulty, as is the nationalized plan in the United Kingdom. We have to improve on the prototype." -- The America We Deserve, 2000

During Obama's first term, he focused on Obamacare's constitutionality and affordability


"I do not think [Obamacare is] constitutional." -- Interview with CNSNews, 2011

"We still need a plan to bring down health-care costs and make health-care insurance more affordable for everyone. It starts with increasing competition between insurance companies. Competition makes everything better and more affordable."

"One way to infuse more competition into the market is to let citizens purchase health-care plans across state lines."

"Obamacare can't be reformed, salvaged, or fixed. It's that bad." -- Time to Get Tough, 2011

Trump took to Twitter repeatedly to criticize Obamacare

"In order to save Medicare and stop record premium increases--we must repeal ObamaCare." --@realDonaldTrump on Twitter, Oct 6th, 2011

"ObamaCare is clearly unconstitutional. Hopefully the USC rules correctly but in the end repealing ObamaCare requires a political solution." -- @realDonaldTrump on Twitter, March 26th, 2012

"Wow, the Supreme Court passed @ObamaCare. I guess @JusticeRoberts wanted to be a part of Georgetown society more than anyone knew." -- @realDonaldTrump on Twitter, June 28th, 2012

During the Republican primaries, he caught heat for supporting broad coverage

“As far as single payer, it works in Canada. It works incredibly well in Scotland. It could have worked in a different age... What I’d like to see is a private system without the artificial lines around every state.” -- First Republican primary debate, Aug 6th, 2015

"We cannot let them die in the streets."

Scott Pelley: "Universal health care."

Trump: "I am going to take care of everybody. I don't care if it costs me votes or not. Everybody's going to be taken care of much better than they're taken care of now."

Pelley: "The uninsured person is going to be taken care of. How? How?"

Trump: "They're going to be taken care of. I would make a deal with existing hospitals to take care of people. And, you know what, if this is probably --"

Pelley: "Make a deal? Who pays for it?"

Trump: "The government's gonna pay for it. But we're going to save so much money on the other side. But for the most it's going to be a private plan and people are going to be able to go out and negotiate great plans with lots of different competition with lots of competitors with great companies and they can have their doctors, they can have plans, they can have everything." -- 60 Minutes interview with Scott Pelley, Sept 27th, 2015

Trump wants to replace Obamacare... but the details are scant

Joe Scarborough: "What do you replace [Obamacare] with?"

Trump: "Health-care savings plans, one way.  We have to get rid of the lines between states."  

Scarborough: "Are you going to guarantee all Americans health care?... You have constantly said, even in New Hampshire -- the 'Live Free or Die' state -- that every American should get health care. Is that your position?"

Trump: "Let me tell you, that's not what I said… Here's what I said.  We're going to have great plans. They're going to be much less expensive and they're going to be much better because the Obama plan is unaffordable and it's a disaster… But there will be a group of people that is not doing well, that has no money."

"We cannot let them die in the streets. And we'll work out either through Medicare, which we'll save or something… And I say to the Republicans all the time. And by the way I get standing ovations from Republicans, from Republican groups. I got one yesterday. I said we can't let people die in the streets… We're going to take care of them. We're going to take care of them. We have to take care of them. Now, that's not single payer. That's not anything. That's just human decency. And I'll tell you what. Every single time I say that, I say to people in the audience -- I say, 'So what do you think?' They all stand up and give me a standing ovation, OK?" -- MSNBC town hall with Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, Feb 17th, 2016

Ted Cruz tried to challenge him on his less-than-conservative views

Trump: "If people -- my plan is very simple. I will not -- we're going to have private -- we are going to have health care, but I will not allow people to die on the sidewalks and the streets of our country if I'm president. You may let it and you may be fine with it...

Ted Cruz: "So does the government pay for everyone's health care?"

Trump: "... I'm not fine with it. We are going to take those people..."

Cruz: "Yes or no. Just answer the question."

Trump: "Excuse me. We are going to take those people and those people are going to be serviced by doctors and hospitals. We're going to make great deals on it, but we're not going to let them die in the streets." -- CNN/Telemundo Republican debate, Feb 25th, 2016

As the Republican nominee, he sharply criticized Obamacare again

"Obamacare is a disaster. You know it, we all know it. It's going up at numbers that nobody’s ever seen, worldwide. It's -- nobody has ever seen numbers like this for health care. It's only getting worse… We have to repeal it and replace it with something absolutely much less expensive. And something that works, where your plan can actually be tailored. We have to get rid of the lines around the state, artificial lines, where we stop insurance companies from coming in and competing." -- Second presidential debate, Oct 9th, 2016

"President Obama said you keep your doctor, keep your plan. The whole thing was a fraud and it doesn't work." -- Second presidential debate, Oct 9th, 2016

After the election, Trump said he likes some provisions of Obamacare, but stopped short of saying how exactly it will change

Lesley Stahl: "When you replace [Obamacare], are you going to make sure that people with pre-conditions are still covered?

Trump: "Yes. Because it happens to be one of the strongest assets...

"We're not going to have, like, a two-day period and we're not going to have a two-year period where there's nothing. It will be repealed and replaced. And we'll know. And it'll be great health care for much less money. So it'll be better health care, much better, for less money. Not a bad combination." -- Interview with Lesley Stahl on 60 Minutes, Nov 13th, 2016

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Christina Stiehl is a Health and fitness staff writer for Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @ChristinaStiehl.

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