Deputy White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Friday that President Donald Trump was just being “complimentary” to the Australian prime minister when he said that country’s universal health care system was superior to the United States’ system.
“I think he was simply being complimentary of the prime minister and I don’t think it was much more than that,” Sanders said during the daily press briefing of Trump’s remark.
Shortly after the White House briefing wrapped up, Trump himself seemed to contradict Sanders in a tweet, saying that anything is better than Obamacare.
Of course the Australians have better healthcare than we do –everybody does. ObamaCare is dead! But our healthcare will soon be great.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 5, 2017
During a joint appearance Thursday night in New York City, Trump told Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull that “right now Obamacare is failing.”
“We have a failing health care,” Trump told Turnbull. “I shouldn’t say this to our great gentleman and my friend from Australia, because you have better health care than we do.”
Australia has government-funded universal health coverage via a program called Medicare, which allows its citizens to visit doctors and public hospitals for free. By contrast, House Republicans’ Obamacare repeal bill, whose passage Trump celebrated earlier Thursday at the White House, would cut back Medicaid funding in part by repealing a tax on wealthy Americans’ investments.
Pressed later in the briefing on Trump’s comments, Sanders maintained that the President was simply being nice to a fellow head of state.
“I’m saying that the President was complimenting a foreign leader on the operations of their health care system and that it didn’t mean anything more than that,” she told one reporter.
“Again, that’s one of the biggest things that is wrong with Obamacare,” she elaborated. “It’s tried to be a one-size-fits-all, and that’s the opposite of what the plan is that we are putting in place right now, it allows for state flexibility. What works in Australia may not work in the United States. So I think again, he was complimenting the prime minister, and we’re are focused on putting a health care plan in place that works here.”