BENADOR: TRUMP’S HEALTH CARE CONUNDRUM

The American people hope for a new health care proposal the President promised them as a candidate, but it seems their wait will be longer than they expected.

How many times did Trump say that “Obamacare is a disaster?”  He then usually added:  “We’re going to repeal and replace it immediately.  That’s going to be easy.”

Alas, after his inauguration, Trump has reviewed many of promises he shared with the devoted attendees to his rallies:  “I never said repeal and replace Obamacare.”

As in his health care promises, Trump has changed his positions on other subjects as well.

We are told, once you become the President, you will see some things not only depend on you.

Certainly, the astute businessman billionaire knew that, so he used the advice as he tells in his book “The Art of the Deal.”

 

Instead of “Then you close the deal, ” try inserting:  “Then you do whatever you want to do with them.”

Conflict of Interest?

While the President has tried to show Americans how much he was keen and willing to avoid all conflict of interest, all his efforts cannot and will never control the uncontrollable conflict of interest.

In fact, we knew that from the beginning, and if the President were to fulfill all the promises he made to save the American people on so many fronts, frankly, we would not have minded if he and his family became the richest human beings on earth.

A President who blatantly does the opposite of his campaign promises that are all over the internet is another story.

Ah, Ivanka and Jared 

The story goes more or less like this:

“Attorney Jamie Gorelick had just finished vetting potential Cabinet secretaries for Hillary Clinton — and raising money for the failed 2016 Democratic nominee — when Jared Kushner called her last year, seeking legal counsel.

Gorelick, who served as deputy attorney general under President Bill Clinton and a former member of the 9/11 Commission, was recommended to Kushner by former News Corp. executive Joel Klein, who now serves as chief strategy officer at Oscar, the health insurance company co-founded by Kushner’s younger brother, Josh. Klein told Jared Kushner he needed a real lawyer to sort through nepotism and conflict-of-interest concerns that could bar him from working in the White House for his father-in-law, President Donald Trump.”

Josh Kushner and his Health Care Billion Empire

In 2013, Josh Kushner, Jared’s brother cofounded Oscar, a health insurance company built around Obamacare. It has raised $720 million and is valued at $2.7 billion–and the president-elect had spent the previous year promising to kill Obamacare. That merited an all-hands meeting for its 450 employees to discuss contingency plans.

As we approach 100 days into the Trump administration, Kushner’s situation has arguably worsened. The GOP’s recent failure to repeal and replace Obamacare was, on paper, a victory for Oscar. But President Trump immediately let it be known that he plans to lay slow siege, promising on Twitter that “ObamaCare will explode and we will all get together and piece together a great healthcare plan for THE PEOPLE. Do not worry!” Since the executive branch controls the levers, Trump can make this a self-fulfilling prophecy, leaving Kushner–who had already been planning to extend Oscar toward corporate plans–stuck in strategic limbo.

We now have the makings of a Hollywood-worthy sibling rivalry, which will play out on the national stage: the younger brother, who attended the Women’s March on Washington, helping lead the team running the most prominent startup of the Obamacare era; the older brother, who has either bought into Steve Bannon’s worldview or proved powerless to temper it, helping lead the team that’s determined to end the Obamacare era.”

As you will gather, there is more that unites the brothers than could ever distance them.

In fact, with Oscar, Kushner sought to shake the boring health care system using technology to find more efficient care and replace convoluted paperwork with a new and simple interface.

The idea hit Kushner in 2012 while attempting to decode an insurance form after he sprained an ankle. He discussed the problem with Mario Schlosser, a co-founder of Vostu, one of the companies Kushner dabbled in at Harvard, who was squatting in Thrive’s office, writing a book about data. Schlosser, a data scientist, was equally perplexed by the Byzantine claims process that preceded the birth of his first child.

As such, Obama’s Affordable Care Act was the perfect match for Oscar to take on the health care market.

They thought a high-tech, consumer-friendly product would flourish on the Obamacare exchanges, where people compare and pick insurance plans. Schlosser and Kevin Nazemi, a Microsoft alum, went to work on the product while Kushner and Thrive focused largely on marketing and branding.

The capital was key. While the Ubers and Airbnbs could gleefully skirt local rules, health insurance was bound by strict state laws. Oscar had to hire teams of industry wonks, navigate a lengthy certification process and park millions of dollars in government-mandated reserves.

Kushner’s network and rising reputation helped secure $40 million in funding from the likes of General Catalyst, Khosla Ventures and Founders Fund in 2013. Schlosser laughs as he recalls an early pitch in which Kushner described their naïveté as an asset that let Oscar see the insurance business with fresh eyes…

…A year later, they’d raised another $30 million. Then came rounds of $80 million, $145 million and $33 million, followed by the big one–$400 million from Google Capital and Fidelity, among others, in February 2016 at a $2.7 billion valuation. “Josh is great at spotting large market opportunities,” says Breyer Capital’s Jim Breyer, an Oscar investor.

…Oscar still has plenty of capital in the bank, but with a decline this year in enrollments, from 140,000 to 105,000 (after exiting risky markets), it clearly erred regarding the overall demand.

While the company says the failed Obamacare repeal is good news, the events of the past several weeks will not cure its ills. Oscar had already been urgently shifting toward the world without the Affordable Care Act and its individual mandate, launching an insurance product for small business–the hope is that its flashy tech will lead to big corporate deals (possible first targets: investors Google and Fidelity).

But businesses hate uncertainty, and Oscar’s sandbox now ranks among the most uncertain in America.

The above briefly gives an inside view on what and how big the stakes are in the health care issue for the Trump and Kushner families.

Conclusion

What influence this may or may not have on the President’s plans and decisions no one knows for sure.

Healthcare for over 330 million people is a good business for an ambitious entrepreneur anywhere in the world.

President Trump is now in the middle of the Washington swamp and his family swamp.

Was he honest when he made all those promises, including health care, to the American people, knowing that it was what they wanted to hear from their next President?

What if the President is just gaining time for the benefit of what is most important to him, his family?

We give you the information.  You decide.

©ElianaBenador

 

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