U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday signed an executive order on health care, pledging to "protect and improve" Medicare, especially the Medicare Advantage plans offered by private insurers to seniors.
The executive order, an alternative to the Medicare for All Act of 2019 proposed by Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, is perceived as Trump's bid to appeal to voters in the 2020 election, in which healthcare is a major topic.
"Medicare is under threat like never before," Trump said while speaking to an audience on Thursday at The Villages, a retirement community in Florida. "Almost every major Democrat in Washington has backed a massive government health care takeover that would totally obliterate Medicare."
The order aims to give private insurers more flexibility within the Medicare Advantage framework to offer supplemental benefits and telehealth services, and streamline the process for seniors to sign up for the plans.
The order will also allow Medicare Advantage enrollees to receive cash or monetary rebates so as to incentivize them to seek high-value care.
The president outlined little specific legislative plan on health care. Instead, he attacked Democratic rivals for "taking away the choices currently available within Medicare, centralizing even more power in Washington, and harming seniors and other Medicare beneficiaries."
Toward the end of his speech, Trump highlighted his administration's efforts to lower prescription drug prices and then suggested that drugmakers were helping with the impeachment inquiry by House Democrats.
Lowering drug prices has been a top priority for Democrats this year. Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rolled out the party's long-awaited plan on Sept. 19 and was welcomed by Trump.