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World & Nation

No, Bill Clinton didn’t ‘torch’ Obamacare. Here’s what he was really talking about

Hillary Clinton addresses her husband’s recent Obamacare comments

Donald Trump has repeatedly claimed over the past week that Bill Clinton “torched” the Affordable Care Act when the former president brought up the health law during a campaign rally for Hillary Clinton in Michigan on Monday.

Trump was asked about his comments again again during Sunday’s debate. 

His claims are, at best, misleading. The former president did note that some people are still struggling to afford healthcare, despite the 2010 law, often called Obamacare.

And Clinton observed that under the current system, those who fare best are those who qualify for government health programs, such as Medicaid for the poor and Medicare for the elderly and disabled.

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Here are Clinton’s exact words:

“The current system works fine if you’re eligible for Medicaid, if you’re a lower-income working person, if you’re already on Medicare, or if you get enough subsidies on a modest income that you can afford your healthcare. 

“But the people that are getting killed in this deal are small-business people and individuals who make just a little too much to get any of these subsidies. Why? Because they’re not organized, they don’t have any bargaining power with insurance companies, and they’re getting whacked.

“So you’ve got this crazy system where all of a sudden, 25 million more people have healthcare and then the people that are out there busting it — sometimes 60 hours a week — wind up with their premiums doubled and their coverage cut in half. It’s the craziest thing in the world.”

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Clinton went on to suggest that people who are caught in the middle should be allowed to buy into a government program such as Medicare.

Far from repudiating the current law or his wife’s healthcare platform, Clinton was actually making the same case that she and President Obama have made repeatedly about the need to build on the current law to help more people.

Hillary Clinton, among other things, has proposed allowing people ages 55-64 to buy into Medicare to provide them with another affordable health coverage option. And she has advocated additional tax credits for people with high medical costs.

“We have more work to do to finish our long fight to provide universal, quality, affordable healthcare to everyone in America,” she notes on her campaign website.

Obama on numerous occasions has urged Congress and the next president to revisit the law and make further improvements.

“Despite this progress, too many Americans still strain to pay for their physician visits and prescriptions, cover their deductibles, or pay their monthly insurance bills; struggle to navigate a complex, sometimes bewildering system; and remain uninsured,” the president wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Assn. over the summer.

“More work to reform the healthcare system is necessary.”

Twitter: @noamlevey

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