White House downplays Trump's praise for Australian healthcare

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The president shocked and astonished citizens after he drew a comparison praising Australia during his meeting with Malcolm Turnbull, the nation's prime minister, only hours following the repeal of portions of Obamacare. It has long come under attack by conservatives.

"You have better healthcare than we do", Mr Trump said.

The president also lauded the American Health Care Act, which the House narrowly passed earlier Thursday and sent over to the Senate.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House's deputy press secretary who is filling in to replace Sean Spicer, faced many questions during a press briefing Friday.

Bernie Sanders, one of the most vocal single-payer proponents, was quite pleased with Trump's comment (even if the president was completely ignorant of Australia's health care).

Upon hearing Trump's praise for Australia's universal health care system, Sanders laughed out loud during an interview with Chris Hayeson MSNBC.

"Let us move to a Medicare-for-all system that does what every other major country on Earth does: guarantee health care to all people at a fraction of the cost per capita that we spend", Mr Sanders said referring to the system under which senior citizens in the United States receive free or heavily subsidised health care. "Maybe he wants to take a look at the Canadian health care system or systems throughout Europe". In Australia and every other major country on Earth, they guarantee healthcare to all people. "I'll be sure to quote you on the floor of the Senate", Sanders tweeted.

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"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.

But the White House has since clarified those comments, saying the US President was simply saying nice things to an ally and did not think his country should adopt a similar approach. It's built on millions of people-to-people ties.

Do you feel lucky to have Medicare here in Australia?

The US leader raised eyebrows when he told Mr Turnbull shortly after the bill passed that Australia had "better health care than we do".

But the GOP's health care bill will, of course, be great. "We reaffirmed the tremendous friendship between the United States and Australia and the vital importance of our security and our alliance". "This involves cooperating to fight ISIS and other terrorist groups, and shaping a more peaceful Asia-Pacific, including by addressing the threat posed by North Korea", it said.

"I think we've made very clear we're going to be hands on in this process".