Dueling Candidates on Health Care: Hillary Clinton Would Improve Upon Obamacare, Donald Trump Would Repeal, Restore Control to Insurance Companies

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, during presidential debate, have very different health care proposals © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, during presidential debate, have very different health care proposals © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Before the Affordable Care Act (ACA, better known as Obamacare), more than 50 million Americans were without any health insurance and 20,000 people were losing their health insurance each month as the Bush Great Recession hemorrhaged 850,000 jobs a month. Though employers for more than a decade have been cutting back on health benefits (making it a Hobson’s choice to leave a terrible job or an abusive marriage), 170 million people get their insurance through their employment, and insurance companies were raising premiums annually at rates five times the rate of inflation, refusing to provide insurance based on pre-existing conditions, charging women higher rates (because they have babies, don’t you know), arbitrarily denying services, capping lifetime claims, throwing people off insurance, and pocketing 25-30% of the premium, with only 70-75% going to patient care. 

The Affordable Care Act, designed to make health insurance accessible to everyone, made improvements that have benefited everyone (as Hillary said), but meant the difference between life and death for the 50 million who could not afford health care at all. But to get it passed Obama had to make compromises, including giving up a public option. Then, chiefly Republican-dominated states rejected ACA, casting millions of their residents into a limbo where they could not qualify for the federally-provided exchange and didn’t have access through an employer. 

Significantly, ACA (Obamacare) was a Hail Mary to get universal access to health care, with some benefits in terms of containing health care costs. But the next round of health care reform would need to address costs. Here, in the words of their own campaigns, are the candidates’ health plans – in essence, Donald Trump pledges to repeal Obamacare and replace it by returning to “market” (that is, for-profit insurance companies) control, while Hillary Clinton is vowing to make necessary improvements to Obamacare to continue the goal of universal health care, correcting the inequities between states which refused Obamacare and possibly with a public option – Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features. 

Trump: Obamacare is a Disaster and Needs to be Repealed

“Obamacare Is A Disaster. You Know It We All Know It.”

During the second presidential debate, the question was asked, “What will you do to bring down the cost of health care? This is the rambling, nonsensical reply to the question, and the Trump campaign is so proud of it, they emailed it out:

trump-debate2-obamacare

TRUMP: “It is such a great question, and it’s maybe the question I get almost more than anything else. Outside of defense. Obamacare is a disaster. You know it we all know it. It is going up at numbers that nobody has ever seen worldwide. No One has ever seen numbers like this for healthcare. It is only getting worse. In seventeen, implodes by itself. Their methods of fixing it is to go and ask Congress for more money. More and more money. We right now have almost twenty trillion dollars in debt. Obama care with mother work. It is very bad, very bad health insurance. Far too expensive, and not only expensive for the person that has it, unbelievably expensive for our country. It’s got to be one of the biggest line items very shortly. We have to repeal it, and replace it with something absolutely much less expensive. And something that works. Where your plan can actually be tailored. We have to get rid of the lines around the state, and official lines. Where we stop insurance companies from coming in and competing because they wanted President Obama and whoever is working on it. They want to leave those lines because that gives the insurance companies, essentially, monopolies. We want competition. You will have the finest healthcare plan there is, she wants to go to a single-payer pan. Which would be a disaster. Somewhat similar to Canada. And if you haven’t noticed the Kitty Indians, when they need a big operations they come into the United States in many cases. Because they are system is so slow, it is catastrophic in certain ways. But she wants to go to single-payer. Which means the government basically rules everything. Hillary Clinton has been after this for years. Obamacare was the first step. Obamacare is a total disaster. And not only are your rates going up by numbers that no one has ever believed, but your deductibles are going up. So that unless you get hit by a truck, you are never going to be able to use it. It is a disastrous plan and it has to be repealed.” (Click To Watch)

Clinton’s Plan To Improve Our Health Care And Build On The Affordable Care Act

“Hillary Clinton will defend and expand on the progress made under Obama Administration toward universal coverage through the Affordable Care Act. The fact is, Hillary has never given up on the fight for universal coverage—and she won’t stop now. As First Lady, she refused to give up when the insurance industry and special interests attacked her and defeated healthcare reform. Instead, she worked with Republicans and Democrats to help create and implement the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which now provides health coverage to more than 8 million children,” Hillary for America campaign stated.

Hillary Clinton, Democratic candidate for President, advocates improving upon Obamacare toward the goal of universal health care © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Hillary Clinton, Democratic candidate for President, advocates improving upon Obamacare toward the goal of universal health care © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

As president, Hillary will build on the Affordable Care Act to expand coverage for millions of Americans.

  • She will  lower-out-of-pocket expenses for consumers purchasing health insurance on the Obamacare exchanges. Hillary believes that in order to expand coverage for families, we need to reduce the cost of purchasing health insurance on the Affordable Care Act exchanges. Her plan will provide enhanced relief for people on the exchanges, and provide a tax credit of up to $5,000 per family to offset a portion of excessive out-of-pocket and premium costs above 5% of their income. She will enhance the premium tax credits now available through the exchanges so that those now eligible will pay less of a percentage of their income than under current law and ensure that all families purchasing on the exchange will not spend more than 8.5 percent of their income for premiums. Finally, she will fix the “family glitch” so that families can access coverage when their employer’s family plan premium is too expensive.
  • She will support new incentives to encourage all states to expand Medicaid. Hillary will fight for health insurance for our lowest income residents living in every state across the nation. Hillary will follow President Obama’s proposal to allow any state that signs up for the Medicaid expansion to receive a 100 percent match for the first three years, and she will continue to look for other ways to incentivize states to expand Medicaid to meet the health needs of their most vulnerable residents.
  • She will invest in navigators, advertising and other outreach activities to make enrollment easier. Today, as many as 16 million people or half of all those uninsured are eligible but not enrolled in virtually free Medicaid coverage or exchange coverage for as little as $100 a month or less. Hillary will ensure anyone who wants to enroll can understand their options and do so easily, by dedicating more funding for outreach and enrollment efforts. She will invest $500 million per year in an aggressive enrollment campaign to ensure more people enroll in these extremely affordable options.
  • She will expand access to affordable health care to families regardless of immigration status. Hillary sponsored the Immigrant Children’s Health Improvement Act in the Senate, which later became law and allows immigrant children and pregnant women to obtain Medicaid and CHIP. She believes we should let families—regardless of immigration status—buy into the Affordable Care Act exchanges. Families who want to purchase health insurance should be able to do so.
  • She will continue to support a “public option”—and work to build on the Affordable Care Act to make it possible. As she did in her 2008 campaign health plan, and consistently since then, Hillary supports a “public option” to reduce costs and broaden the choices of insurance coverage for every American. To make immediate progress toward that goal, Hillary will work with interested governors, using current flexibility under the Affordable Care Act, to empower states to establish a public option choice.

Going forward, Hillary will build on these efforts and fight to ensure that the savings from these reforms benefits families—not just insurance companies, drug companies, and large corporations. She will expand coverage for Americans living in rural areas and continue a lifelong commitment to protecting women’s reproductive rights.

  • Hillary’s plan will reduce the cost of prescription drugs. Prescription drug spending accelerated from 2.5 percent in 2013 to 12.6 percent in 2014. It’s no wonder that almost three-quarters of Americans believe prescription drug costs are unreasonable. Hillary believes we need to demand lower drug costs for hardworking families and seniors and she will hold drug companies accountable for unjustified price hikes with new penalties.
  • Her plan will transform our healthcare system to reward value and quality. Hillary is committed to building on delivery system reforms in the Affordable Care Act that improve value and quality care for Americans.
  • Hillary will also work to expand access to rural Americans, who often have difficulty finding quality, affordable health care. She will explore cost-effective ways to broaden the scope of health care providers eligible for telehealth reimbursement under Medicare and other programs, including federally qualified health centers and rural health clinics. She will also call for states to support efforts to streamline licensing for telemedicine and examine ways to expand the types of services that qualify for reimbursement.

Hillary is continuing a lifelong fight to ensure women have access to reproductive health care. As senator, she championed access to emergency contraception and voted in favor of strengthening a woman’s right to make her own health decisions. As president, she will continue defending Planned Parenthood, which provides critical health services including breast exams and cancer screenings to 2.7 million patients a year. And she will work to ensure that all women have access to preventive care, affordable contraception, and safe, legal abortion—not just in principle, but in practice, by ending restrictions like the Hyde Amendment.

Hillary for America also challenged Trump’s proposals:

Trump Would Rip Away Health Coverage From 20 Million People And Let Insurers Write The Rules

Donald Trump would immediately work to repeal Obamacare–taking health insurance away from at least 20 million people and letting the insurance companies write the rules all over again. Trump even supported shutting down the government in order to defund Obamacare.

  • New York Times: “Millions of low-income people have gained coverage under the Affordable Care Act and could lost it if Congress repealed the law.”
  • Trump saidhe supported Republicans’ efforts to shut down the government over Obamacare and that they should have stuck together.

Trump’s “plan” would cost hundreds of billions more, and does not address people with pre-existing conditions.

  • CNBC: More $$$, More Uninsured: Donald Trump’s Health-Care Plan
  • VOX:  Trump’s Plan Would Take Health Insurance Away From 21 Million People. Sad!
  • Bloomberg: “Trump’s proposal is silent on the subject of preventing insurers from dropping coverage for those with preexisting conditions, a feature of Obamacare that Trump has said he supports.”

Meanwhile, the Trump campaign is making hay, taking a statement that President Bill Clinton made out of context:

FACT CHECK: President Clinton And The Affordable Care Act

“Don’t believe Donald Trump when he distorts what President Clinton said about the Affordable Care Act. Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Tim Kaine and President Obama all agree that we have made tremendous progress because of the Affordable Care Act, delivering coverage to 20 million people who were previously uninsured — but they agree there’s more we can do.”

  • Politifact: “In context, it’s also worth noting that Clinton’s actual comments never mentioned the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare. In fact, as we reviewed the transcript, we noticed that much of what Clinton said addressed issues that pre-dated the 2010 health care law, including concerns about high costs and a lack of guaranteed coverage.”

The bottom line is Hillary will defend and expand on the progress made under Obama Administration toward universal coverage through the Affordable Care Act, while Donald Trump would immediately work to repeal Obamacare, taking health insurance away from 20 million people – and letting the insurance companies write the rules all over again. Trump’s suggested healthcare plan would cost hundreds of billions more, and does not address people with pre-existing conditions.

See also:

By One Measure, Health Care Law Is a Record Success

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