Two weeks before Election Day, Obamacare is back big time.
Republicans capitalized on the Affordable Care Act’s unpopularity in 2010 and 2014 to retake both houses of Congress. But until now, the issue hadn’t ignited in a presidential campaign season dominated by the outsize personality of the GOP presidential nominee who has focused on trade, terrorism and ad hominem attacks.
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Hillary Clinton responded to news of ObamaCare premium hikes on Tuesday by saying she is going to “tackle” the problem of high costs, while defending the health law overall.
“We’re going to really tackle that, we’re going to get co-pays and premiums and deductibles down, we’re going to tackle prescription drug costs,” Clinton told the radio station Hot 105.
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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Tuesday argued that spikes in health insurance premiums for Affordable Care Act plans provided an urgent rationale for his election on day that also brought fresh signs of a flagging campaign.
Trump’s finance chairman said that the GOP nominee has no further high-dollar fundraising events planned for the remainder of the campaign, dealing another serious blow to the GOP’s effort to finance its get-out-the-vote operation before Election Day.
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Donald J. Trump, desperate for a winning political issue in the final two weeks of the presidential race, fiercely attacked Hillary Clinton on Tuesday over sharp premium increases that will hit some Americans covered under the Affordable Care Act.
“The rates are going through the sky,” Mr. Trump said at a rally in Sanford, Fla., referring to double-digit increases in battleground states like North Carolina and Iowa.
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A sharp jump in ObamaCare premiums has created a political opportunity for Republican candidates just two weeks before Election Day.
GOP candidates have mostly avoided the topic of healthcare on the campaign trail, but that could change following the news this week that there will be an average 25 percent premium increase in ObamaCare plans. Officials also confirmed a major drop-off in insurer options, with more than 80 companies ditching the federal marketplace next year.
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Donald Trump jumped Monday on an announcement that ObamaCare premiums will spike by double digits next year, saying “it’s over for ObamaCare.”
“In case you haven’t heard today’s news, it’s just been announced that Americans are going to experience yet another double-digit spike in your premium for ObamaCare and it doesn’t work,” Trump said at a rally in Tampa, Fla.
He was referring to the announcement from the Obama administration Monday that the benchmark ObamaCare plan’s premium will increase by 25 percent in 2017.
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In the last moments of the final presidential debate Wednesday, the candidates used a question about entitlements to restate their positions on Obamacare. Donald Trump again vowed to “repeal and replace” the law and said that he was glad premiums had gone up, presumably to make his point that President Obama’s signature health care reform law was “destroying our country.” Hillary Clinton said repealing Obamacare would make maintaining the solvency of Medicare more difficult.
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The debate over what’s wrong with Obamacare matters beyond this political cycle; what happens to the health care system in the next administration will be driven by what Americans think needs fixing. And while the headlines and stump speeches have focused on the struggles of the exchanges, the Affordable Care Act is quietly reshaping the entire system. It’s reining in the spiraling growth of health care costs, cutting by half the ranks of the uninsured, and providing a host of new protections and perks to the insured.
The political debate has been primarily detached from that transformation.
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Clinton says she wants to save the best of Obamacare while reducing costs. Trump says it is an expensive “disaster” that is on track to implode in 2017. He wants to replace it with something cheaper.
Trump has proposed getting rid of the exchanges and setting up tax-free health savings accounts for people with high-deductible insurance plans. He has also said he would set up state-based high-risk pools for people with medical conditions that make it hard to get coverage on their own. He also wants to allow companies to sell insurance across state lines to boost competition and drive down prices.
Whoever wins the presidency on Nov. 8 will likely face pressure to move quickly to reshape a healthcare initiative that affects millions of Americans.
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The loss of what remains of Americans’ health care freedom is an election away. For the Obamacare of today to be transformed into the Hillarycare of 1993 and finally into a nationalized health care system, a president is needed who has the willpower to impose the coercive details, nail down hard deadlines and unleash agencies to tighten controls and squeeze the life out of private insurers. In 1993, Hillary Clinton unapologetically proposed to do just that. If she is elected president, she will have the unilateral power under Obamacare to do it.
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