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Turnbull says meeting with Trump was like 'family'

10 May 2017

In the most contentious congressional vote of Trump's presidency on Thursday, lawmakers voted 217 to 213 to pass the bill, the American Health Care Act, and to dismantle Obama's Affordable Care Act. "I shouldn't say this to our great gentleman, and my friend from Australia, because you have better health care than we do".

During a visit with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, US president Donald Trump said that the US healthcare system was failing and that Australia's universal system, which provides free, subsidized healthcare for all its citizens, is superior. "So maybe when we get to the Senate we should start off with looking at the Australian health care system". The country's universal health care program is even called Medicare.

"The president and Prime Minister Turnbull discussed the enduring bonds, deep friendship, and close alliance between the United States and Australia that have been critically important to the maintenance of regional and global peace and security", the White House said in a readout of the meeting held in NY on Thursday.

"We have a very intense engagement with the United States on these matters", Mr Turnbull said.

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"Let us move to a Medicare-for-all system that does what every other major country on the earth does - guaranteed healthcare to all people at a fraction of the cost per capita that we spend", he said during the MSNBC interview.

"I'll be honest - I didn't like the look of our prime minister being kept waiting for three hours, but I guess there is not much you can do about that", Labor Party leader Bill Shorten told reporters.

Regardless, Trump is correct that the US lags behind other countries in health care service among industrialized nations. "They don't throw 24 million people off health insurance".

Brendan Thomas-Noone, a research fellow at the United States Studies Center in Sydney, said whether Australians believed Turnbull had been successful in balancing those needs would likely be shaped by the prime minister's future decisions on Australia's commitment to America's various military operations.

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Here's one thing she agrees with Trump on.

The tweet was accompanied by a short video that set out the virtues of Australia's universal healthcare system, saying it guarantees better service to all Australians at about half the cost of US healthcare.

Earlier on Friday afternoon, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders sought to downplay Trump's comments to Turnbull.

Trump's own staff tried to clean up the comment on Friday, arguing that he meant it only as a compliment to Turnbull and not as praise for the system itself. But the GOP's health care bill will, of course, be great.

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