Trump to roll out Medicare plan as Democratic rivals clash over health care

President Trump plans to release a proposal to strengthen Medicare on Thursday, as his potential 2020 Democratic rivals unveil sweeping — and expensive — plans to overhaul health care in the U.S.

Trump will announce an executive order regarding the Medicare system during a speech, titled “Protecting Medicare from Socialist Destruction,” that he’s slated to give at the Villages in Florida this afternoon, administration officials said during a phone call.

He will also more broadly address the country’s health-care system, seeking to cast himself as its defender, even as Democratic presidential candidates look to expand it nationwide under Medicare-for-all proposals.

He’s expected to focus on Medicare Advantage, a popular alternative to Medicare that’s offered by private insurers and covers about 22 million Americans.

"The president has made some clear promises on health care, and he'll reinforce those in his speech that he will always protect vulnerable Americans including those with preexisting conditions," Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said. "And he will deliver all American patients the affordability they need the options and control they want and the quality they deserve."

Azar said the administration intends to open up new cheaper insurance options under the Affordable Care Act, while increasing transparency when it comes to prices.

As previously reported, the executive order could also allow cheaper drug imports from Canada, a proposal that could elicit bipartisan support from Democrats. It’s unclear whether the White House has the legal capability to expand these policies without Congress’ approval.

He’s also expected to push for changes that could lower the price of patient visits to hospital outpatient visits, which can cost more than visits to clinics operated by doctors.

Trump hopes to draw a sharp contrast between his plan and the vast proposals introduced by Democratic presidential hopefuls, including calls to totally eliminate private insurance. However, there’s a growing schism between moderate Democrats who want to keep private insurance, and progressives who want to roll it under the arm of the government.

“I know [Sen. Warren] says she’s for Bernie,” former Vice President Joe Biden said during the most recent Democratic debate. “Well, I’m for Barack. I think ObamaCare worked.”