On Wednesday night, President Donald Trump delivered a prime-time televised address from the Oval Office about the widening coronavirus crisis, so filled with blatant errors that fact-checkers and the White House struggled to keep up and correct the record.
Trump told the nation that major U.S. insurance companies “have agreed to waive all copayments for coronavirus treatments” as the disease rapidly spreads across the nation.
But a spokesperson for America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), a major insurance industry lobbying group, was quick to clarify that, actually, companies are only waiving copays for “testing.” For those who test positive for COVID-19, any treatment will still come at a (potentially massive) cost.
“For testing. Not for treatment,” the AHIP spokesperson told Politico healthcare reporter Sarah Owermohle after Trump delivered his prepared remarks, which included a muddled declaration of a temporary travel ban from much of Europe, sparking widespread confusion and sending markets into an even deeper tailspin.
A White House official also stepped in to correct Trump’s claim that insurance companies agreed to waive copays for coronavirus treatment after meeting with the president at the White House on Tuesday.
The anonymous official told CNN’s Jim Acosta that Trump, who read his remarks off a teleprompter, meant to say that insurance companies “have agreed to waive all copays on coronavirus testing.”
Trump's claim tonight that health insurers "have agreed to waive all copayments for coronavirus treatments" seems to be news to them.
“For testing. Not for treatment.” a spokesperson for the major insurance lobby AHIP says.
— Sarah Owermohle (@owermohle) March 12, 2020
Insurance companies exist to make a profit. They do not exist to provide you with healthcare. Profiting off a pandemic is beyond immoral. https://t.co/5CS69Ja5P2
— Kim Nelson For Congress (@KimforSC) March 12, 2020
The coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. has thrown into sharp relief the systemic flaws at the heart of America’s profit-driven healthcare system, which has left around 30 million people entirely without insurance and tens of millions more with inadequate coverage.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), a supporter of Medicare for All, suggested in a tweet Wednesday night that—among other measures—the U.S. government should extend Medicare or Medicaid coverage to everyone in the U.S. amid the coronavirus outbreak.