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08 May 2017

Trump praises Australia for great health care system

President Donald Trump has praised Australia for having 'better health care than we do' after repealing 'Obamacare' in the USA.

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Publicly funded health care is a national health system designed to (fully or partially) cover the cost of the health care needs of all citizens. The fund is usually financed by enforced contributions from all employed people and administered by the government.

US health system failing

President Donald Trump's praise of Australia's government-funded health care system has raised the ire of Senator Bernie Sanders, a leading advocate of such single-payer systems.

Republicans have strongly opposed calls by Sanders and others to create a similar "universal" health care system in the US.

Trump's praise for the Australian system came as he met in New York with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull hours after the US House narrowly passed a bill to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act, the health care law enacted by former President Barack Obama.

Trump described the US health system as failing, and added that "I shouldn't say this to a great gentleman and my friend from Australia because you have better health care than we do." He said the US would have "great" health care very soon.

Sanders, the Vermont independent who sought the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, tweeted in response: "Yes, Mr Trump, the Australian health care system is a lot better than ours and infinitely better than the disastrous bill you supported."

Plans for a national health insurance scheme or NHI for South Africa have been afoot for a number of years. NHI is nothing new in larger, wealthier democracies. The question, however, is whether such a system is a good fit for South Africa.

'Very exciting' win

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders cautioned against reading too much into the president's comment. She said he was complimenting a foreign leader on the "operations of their health care system" and that he "didn't mean anything more than that."

Australia has a government-funded system that provides free or subsidised care for all Australian citizens and permanent residents, which is partially funded by income taxes.

Trump returned to the health care issue, tweeting that his "Big win in the House" was "very exciting".

"But when everything comes together with the inclusion of Phase 2, we will have truly great healthcare!," Trump added in the tweet sent from his home on his private golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. Trump was likely referring to regulatory and other changes the administration can make to the Obama law.

Trump was spending an extended weekend at his central New Jersey home, about 40 miles (64 km) west of New York.

$1 trillion bill

"Rather than causing a big disruption in N.Y.C., I will be working out of my home in Bedminster, N.J. this weekend. Also saves country money!" he tweeted.

The White House said he was holding meetings and making calls, but didn't say with whom. Trump also was expected to sign a $1 trillion (R13.49 trillion) bill funding the government through September.

Trump spent just a few hours in his New York City hometown, but avoided his Trump Tower home, where security has been tightened and costs for it have mounted since he became president. He had not been back to the city since leaving for his 20 January inauguration.

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