As with everything when it comes to Trump, nobody really knows
Editor's note: Our Post Seed VC event is coming up on Dec. 1 in San Francisco. We'll have Chamath Palihapitiya (Founder of Social Capital), Aydin Senkut (Felicis), Jeff Lawson (Founder & CEO, Twilio) and more. Check out the full lineup and register for tickets before they jump! Post Seed is brought to you by Vator, Bullpen Capital, and Haystack.
In his year-plus campaign for the presidency, Donald Trump made many broad, sweeping claims about what he would do if elected. From a 2,000-mile wall on the Mexico-U.S. border (that Mexico would pay for) to a complete ban on Muslims’ entry into the country, Trump’s ideas have drawn both widespread criticism and acclaim.
Now that he’s President-Elect—and now that the GOP controls both houses of Congress—everyone is asking more seriously than ever which of those ideas Trump can actually achieve once he’s sworn into office. One of the biggest questions concerns the Affordable Care Act (i.e. Obamacare), the 2010 legislation intended to improve health insurance for more people.
Trump and other critics of the legislation argue that Obamacare has failed to achieve its goals.
That’s why in his original position, described in detail in a four-page report on his campaign website, Trump was unequivocal: “On day one of the Trump Administration, we will ask Congress to immediately deliver a full repeal of Obamacare.”
More recently, in his 100-day plan issued after winning the election, Trump reaffirmed his commitment to calling on Congress to introduce and pass legislation that “fully repeals Obamacare and replaces it with Health Savings Accounts, the ability to purchase health insurance across state lines, and lets states manage Medicaid funds. Reforms will also include cutting the red tape at the FDA: there are over 4,000 drugs awaiting approval, and we especially want to speed the approval of life-saving medications.”
But, as with the border wall and Muslim ban, the upcoming Trump administration will need to contend with the realities of working within the broader government system. And even though he should have less friction given the GOP-controlled Congress, Trump already revealed a softened perspective in a 60 Minutes interview aired earlier this week.
Specifically, he said he would work to maintain at least one part of Obamacare: the part that prohibits health insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing medical conditions.
“It happens to be one of the strongest assets,” said Trump.
Even so, it seems that Trump remains committed to repealing the majority of Obamacare while holding onto the parts he likes. Some have argued that you can’t have one without the other, but no one will really know until Trump takes office and Congress starts moving on his request.
As for technology companies in the healthcare industry, it’s even cloudier how a Trump administration would change things. Hoping to hear what the industry thinks, I reached out to several of the largest healthcare companies—top insurers in the Fortune 500 as well as fast-growing tech startups—but most declined to comment.
A spokesperson for Oscar, however, provided this comment:
"We can’t speculate on what the election outcome means for the healthcare industry. Fundamentally, we hope and expect that the new administration will keep the spirit of consumer choice and competition alive in the marketplace, which is a world where we have done pioneering work -- and, are ultimately both prepared and motivated to participate."
Oscar, a healthtech company founded three years after Obamacare became law, has raised approximately $727.5 million for a modern, technology-centric approach to health insurance. But what happens to Oscar, last valued at $2.7 billion, if Obamacare goes away?
The interesting thing is that, on one hand, Trump sells himself as being very pro-business and, specifically, pro-American business. His plan for the first 100 days in office include a “massive tax reduction” for individuals, families, and businesses in addition to tariffs designed to discourage offshoring.
On the other hand, most of Silicon Valley (minus prominent Trump supporter Peter Thiel) has denounced the upcoming president as a “disaster for innovation.” Specifically, many industry leaders have sharply criticized Trump’s anti-immigration policies, as talented immigrants have brought great value to the tech industry.
As always with Trump, it’s difficult to find answers. He has made many lofty claims—some of which have already been downplayed—but nobody will know for sure until he takes office.