U.S. President Donald Trump delivered a real head-scratcher Thursday when he took aim at Obamacare by lavishing praise on Australia‘s health care system — which provides universal coverage and is partially taxpayer-funded.
Trump’s comments came during a photo-op with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, mere minutes after Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives voted to repeal and replace former president Barack Obama‘s signature health care law.
“Right now, Obamacare is failing. I shouldn’t say this to our great gentleman and my friend from Australia, because you have better health care than we do,” Trump said as Turnbull smiled.
Trump’s comments may come as a surprise to many as Australia’s Medicare system is partially funded by a two per cent levy, with low-income Australians paying less or nothing in many cases and high-earners paying extra.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration’s own American Health Care Act would slash funding for Medicaid, the program that provides health coverage for the poor, and roll back its expansion.
‘Trumpcare’ would effectively put an end to Obamacare’s income-based tax credits — which are designed to help low-income people buy health insurance — and cancel the Obamacare tax on investment income earned by rich Americans.
The irony of the president’s statements wasn’t lost on Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders.
“Let’s take a look at the Australian health care system. And let’s move, maybe he wants to take a look at the Canadian health care system or systems throughout Europe… let us move to a Medicare-for-all system that does what every other major country on Earth does — guarantee health care to all people at a fraction of the cost per capita that we spend,” Sanders said on MSNBC.
The bill now heads for what’s expected to be a tough battle in the Senate, with Sanders hinting that he’d be more than happy to use the president’s own words against him.
“Thank you Mr. President, we’ll quote you on the floor of the Senate.”
— With files from Reuters