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British officials condemn Trump remarks on UK health care

In this Jan. 30, 2018  photo, President Donald Trump delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press)
In this Jan. 30, 2018 photo, President Donald Trump delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press)
By Gregory Katz Associated Press

LONDON – British officials reacted angrily Monday to President Donald Trump’s stark criticism of the U.K. health care system, which he said was breaking down.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he is proud of the National Health Service and rejected Trump’s claim that it’s collapsing.

The “NHS may have challenges but I’m proud to be from the country that invented universal coverage – where all get care no matter the size of their bank balance,” he said.

Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn called Trump’s comments “wrong” and said Britons love the NHS.

The latest dispute between Trump and Britain started when Trump criticized Democrats and the British approach to health care in a single tweet.

“The Democrats are pushing for Universal HealthCare while thousands of people are marching in the UK because their U system is going broke and not working,” he tweeted Monday. “Dems want to greatly raise taxes for really bad and non-personal medical care. No thanks!”

His comments followed a march in London on Saturday that drew thousands of people demanding more government funding for Britain’s NHS, which has been badly overstretched this winter, in part because of a rise in severe flu cases. Emergency rooms have at times been overwhelmed, causing long waits.

The march was organized by the People’s Assembly and Health Campaigns Together group, which on Monday condemned Trump’s comments.

“We don’t agree with your divisive and incorrect rhetoric. No thanks,” the group said in a statement.

It said the marchers wanted to show their support for the principle of universal, comprehensive medical care that is free to the user and paid for through general taxation.

Trump has sought to repeal the health care law of his predecessor, Barack Obama.

Congress repealed the unpopular requirement that most Americans carry insurance or risk a tax penalty. That takes effect next year. But other major parts of the overhaul remain in place.

Trump’s relationship with Britain has been strained by his retweeting of videos by the far-right group Britain First and disagreements over his policies on climate change, immigration and other matters. Nonetheless, officials in both countries are working on plans for him to visit Britain later this year.

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