Trump, Clinton Clash Over Affordable Care Act

October 09, 2016

Democrat Hillary Clinton tonight said she would "save what works" about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and tame its rising costs while Republican Donald Trump promised to repeal the healthcare reform law known as Obamacare and let free-market forces cure the nation's healthcare system in the second presidential debate, held at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

That was one of the more traditional exchanges of an evening that initially promised to be as much about sex and sexual assault as it would be about public policy. Insurance coverage and premiums didn't seem to be on the radar after a video surfaced October 7 in which Trump is heard lewdly talking about trying to seduce a married woman, groping women, and kissing them without their consent because "when you're a star they let you do it. You can do anything."

Confronted with those remarks during the debate, Trump said he wasn't proud of the "locker-room talk." He then proceeded to flog Bill Clinton for being "abusive to women" and his wife Hillary for attacking his victims. In a startling moment, he said he would appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the 33,000 emails from Clinton's tenure as secretary of state that she deleted, and told her if he becomes president, "you'd be in jail."

On the milder subject of healthcare, the two candidates hewed to their previously stated positions.


Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton during  the second presidential debate on October 9. John Locher/AP


Clinton agreed with a questioner in the audience that premiums and deductibles for ACA exchange plans were getting too high. She touted her plan to make the plans more affordable, but warned that repealing the ACA would bring back the days of insurers denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, and charging women higher premiums than men.

"Let's fix what's broken about [the ACA], but let's not throw it away and give it back to the insurance companies," she said.

For his part, Trump called the ACA "a total disaster," citing premium increases of roughly 70%, an assertion that the website PolitiFact calls half-true because while some plans are raising rates that much, estimates for the national average range from 4.4% to 13%. A less expensive approach to making insurance coverage more affordable, Trump said, would be letting insurers sell policies across state lines.

"When we get rid of those lines, you have competition and we'll be able to keep pre-existing conditions and help people that…don't have money because we are going to have people protected," Trump said. Giving states block grants for Medicaid — a policy supported by congressional Republicans — would provide for the financially strapped, according to Trump.

The real estate developer and TV reality-show star also accused his opponent of favoring a single-payer healthcare system "somewhat similar to Canada."

"Hillary Clinton has been after this for years," he said. "Obamacare was the first step."

PolitiFact calls this claim inaccurate. "Clinton…has consistently resisted a single-payer system," the website states.

PolitiFact did not dispute any of Clinton's assertions about the ACA.

PolitiFact calls itself an independent, nonpartisan news organization. It is a project of the Tampa Bay Times and its partner news organizations. More information about its mission is available on its website.

The final presidential debate is scheduled for October 19.

Follow Robert Lowes on Twitter @LowesRobert


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