Here we go again. President Trump has announced a big healthcare proposal that amounts to none at all. If anything, it will have a positively insalubrious effect upon the health of Americans.

On Thursday Trump declared, ‘The historic action I’m taking today includes the first-ever executive order to affirm it is the official policy of the United States government to protect patients with pre-existing conditions. This is affirmed, signed, and done so we can put that to rest.’

Umm, no. The fact is that Trump can’t simply issue a healthcare ukase and expect that it will have any practical effect. He can’t force insurers to provide coverage unless he wants to nationalize them.

After promising change for over three years, his move, you could even say, is akin to a cat dropping a dead bird at your feet. As usual with Trump, his aim is to create the appearance of decisive action rather than its substance. Even former acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney expressed his dubiety about Trump’s move to Fox News: ‘I’m not sure where they got the authority to do it, but, I’m sure the lawyers had vetted this and the President had the executive ability to do this, but, keep in mind, any executive order is going to be fairly limited. You need legislation to do big things. If we could have fixed healthcare with executive orders alone, we would have done that back in 2017.’ But Trump is as allergic to pursuing any serious legislation as he is to paying his taxes.

Instead, his administration is pursuing a case before the Supreme Court that is supposed to dismantle Obamacare entirely. If it succeeds, America itself will return to a preexisting condition of no coverage for millions who suffer from a deadly illness. On the eve of the November election and in the midst of a pandemic, Trump’s position is highly unpopular. His only move is to try and camouflage it by noisily touting his commitment to preserving healthcare benefits.

When it comes to healthcare, however, Trump’s loopiness is hardly confined to Obamacare. Instead, the man who advised injecting bleach to defeat the coronavirus is complaining that government agencies aren’t coughing up, as it were, an actual vaccine. Trump has apparently lost his patience with CDC head Robert Redfield whose agency has been issuing recommendations and advisories that are often contradictory. The pressure on these government agencies from Trump and his janissaries is intense. Drs Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx are also on the outs. In is Dr Scott Atlas, a Stanford University neuroradiologist who apparently shrugs at the idea of trying to stymie the coronavirus. He is reported to espouse the theory, if that’s the proper term, of herd immunity, which has a distinctly Benthamite air to it. Herd immunity is one of those concepts that sounds nifty as long as you aren’t one of the poor saps that happens to contract the coronavirus. No one who has heard about the notion should put any more stock in it than Trump’s contention that the virus will ‘just disappear’.