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Donald Trump's new health care plan has been 2 months away for 15 months now

Updated 2:30 PM ET, Wed September 16, 2020

(CNN) - In June 2019, President Donald Trump promised that he was on the verge of unveiling a "phenomenal" health care bill.

"Yeah, well, we'll be announcing that in about two months. Maybe less," Trump told ABC's George Stephanopoulos at the time, adding: "You're going have the greatest health care that anybody's ever had."

Fast-forward 15 months to Wednesday night, when Stephanopoulos and Trump were together again, this time at a town hall in Philadelphia. And this moment, when Trump was asked by a woman named Ellesia Blaque, an assistant professor in Philadelphia who was born with an inflammatory disease, about his fight to get rid of a provision in the Affordable Care Act that blocks insurers from discriminating based on preexisting conditions.

Watch.

Trump's response was rambling -- and filled with falsehoods. (Blaque's face while Trump is "answering" her question is priceless.) Here's the key bit:

"But what we're doing is, we're going to be doing a health care plan -- preexisting, protecting people with preexisting conditions -- as an example, yourself, it sounds like that's exactly perfect. That's exactly what we're talking about. We're going to be doing a health care plan very strongly and protect people with preexisting conditions...

"... I have it all ready, and it's a much better plan for you, and it's a much better plan."

And that "answer" came almost two months after Trump made this pledge to Fox News' Chris Wallace:

"We're signing a health care plan within two weeks, a full and complete health care plan that the Supreme Court decision on DACA gave me the right to do. So we're going to solve -- we're going to sign an immigration plan, a health care plan, and various other plans."

That was on July 19. Two weeks from that day was August 2.

The morning after Trump's town hall, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said that an Obamacare-alternative health care plan is "all ready" after "tweaks" and "modification." It will be rolled out sometime "before the election," Meadows told reporters.

The plan will be done through an executive action, "with a legislative component that is more visionary," Meadows said, and blamed Congress for the significant delay.

Let's deal in some facts, shall we?

1. There is no Trump health care plan currently. The "Healthcare" page at whitehouse.gov offers only this about the supposed plan: "Replacing Obamacare will force insurance companies to compete for their customers with lower costs and higher-quality service." Uh huh.

2. Even if Trump proposed a comprehensive replacement plan for the ACA (aka Obamacare) tomorrow, there is a roughly 0% chance the legislative component would pass Congress before the election.

3. In late June, the Trump administration -- via the Justice Department -- asked the Supreme Court to invalidate Obamacare in its entirety, which would include the elimination of the prohibition on insurance companies discriminating against people with preexisting conditions. Wrote Solicitor General Noel Francisco in the administration's brief to the Court: "The entire ACA thus must fall with the individual mandate, though the scope of relief entered in this case should be limited to provisions shown to injure the plaintiffs."

So, not only does Donald Trump not have an actual health care plan -- still -- but his administration is actively working to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. And to do so, just as a reminder, without any plan to replace it.

This is an emperor-has-no-clothes situation. Trump has been saying that he's got this great plan that he's about to unveil any moment now since, at least, June 2019. And, as recently as July 2020, he said that he was going to be "signing" the (nonexistent) plan in "two weeks." And now Meadows is saying it's "all ready" too.

All of Trump's bravado about a plan that is perfect -- but no one can see just yet -- comes amid polling that shows health care is a majority priority for voters in 2020. In a CNN-SSRS poll conducted last month, more than seven in 10 voters said health care was either "extremely" or "very" important to their vote this fall. And Trump trailed former Vice President Joe Biden by 13 points when voters were asked who would do a better job of handling health care issues in the country.

Those numbers suggest the public has caught on to Trump's secret, which is this: There's no perfect health care plan that the President is about to drop.

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to correctly spell Ellesia Blaque's name.


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