(Bloomberg) — Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said that as president he would use Medicaid to cover poor people who can’t afford private health insurance, and make birth control available without a prescription.
The comments appeared to differ both with what some Republicans have proposed in the past, and — in the case of Medicaid — aspects of Trump’s own policy proposals on his website. Republicans generally opposed the expansion of Medicaid to higher income levels under the Affordable Care Act, for example.
Speaking on “The Dr. Oz Show,” Trump said Medicaid, the joint federal-state program for the poor, should be used to help provide health coverage for those who can’t afford to buy plans from private health insurers. The show was taped Wednesday and aired Thursday.
“We have to help them through the Medicaid system,” Trump told Mehmet Oz, the host of a popular daytime television show and a cardiothoracic surgeon at Columbia University Medical Center. “People have said that’s not the right thing to say. But there is a fairly large percentage who can’t afford it.”
A Trump spokesman said that Trump had not proposed an expansion of Medicaid.
“Mr. 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,” Jason Miller, a Trump campaign spokesman, said in an e-mail.
Repeal the ACA
Trump has previously called for repealing the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, which gave states the option to expand Medicaid to higher income levels, as 31 states have done already. On his website, he calls for turning the program into a grant given to states, letting them manage the program as they see fit. His campaign site also says states offer Medicaid benefits that are too generous.
“Nearly every state already offers benefits beyond what is required in the current Medicaid structure,” according to the site. Under his plan, “states will have the incentives to seek out and eliminate fraud, waste and abuse to preserve our precious resources,” Trump writes.