U.S. Republican presidential front-runner candidate Donald Trump on Wednesday unveiled proposals for reforming U.S. healthcare that included repealing Obamacare, allowing prescription drugs to be imported, and turning the Medicaid program for the poor into block grants to states.
The plan also calls for the sale of health insurance plans across state lines, full deduction of health insurance premiums from income tax and adds: "We must also make sure that no one slips through the cracks simply because they cannot afford insurance."
Trump, who is the front-runner in the race to become the Republican nominee in November's presidential election, is also proposing allowing individuals to use Health Savings Accounts (HAS) to pay for out-of-pocket expenses. Contributions to HSAs would be tax-free and could be passed on to heirs without any tax penalty.
The proposals include requiring "...price transparency from all healthcare providers, especially doctors and healthcare organizations like clinics and hospitals. Individuals should be able to shop to find the best prices for procedures, exams or any other medical-related procedure."
On drug prices, Trump departs from standard Republican policy by calling for lowering barriers to cheaper imported pharmaceuticals.
"Allowing consumers access to imported, safe and dependable drugs from overseas will bring more options to consumers," the statement says, adding that "Congress will need the courage to step away from the special interests and do what is right for America."
The proposals also call for reforming mental health programs and institutions, but provides few details about how to do this.
Trump also called for tighter enforcement of immigration laws, a key plank in his campaign platform, as a way to bring down healthcare costs.
"Providing healthcare to illegal immigrants costs us some $11 billion annually. If we were to simply enforce the current immigration laws and restrict the unbridled granting of visas to this country, we could relieve healthcare cost pressures on state and local governments," the proposal statement says.
Democrats were quick to criticize the plan.
"As Democrats have said all along, Donald Trump is not an outsider engaging in a hostile takeover of the GOP – in fact, he embodies the Republican Party.
"The fact that his healthcare 'plan' is clearly cribbed from worn-out and false GOP talking points proves that Trump is just another Republican politician who wants to take healthcare away from millions of Americans without offering any substantive alternative," Democratic National Committee Communications Director Luis Miranda said in a statement.
(Reporting by Eric Walsh; Editing by Sandra Maler)