Bill Clinton created fresh problems for his presidential candidate wife when he criticized the way US health care works under Barack Obama’s reforms as “crazy,” prompting Republican Donald Trump to seize on the misstep Tuesday.
The former president has a reputation for speaking in a more freewheeling style than Democrat Hillary Clinton does on the campaign trail, and his remarks in Flint, Michigan created a hiccup for his wife at a critical phase in the White House race just five weeks from Election Day on November 8.
Bill Clinton had sought to explain the shortcomings of the complex US system of health care coverage under both public and private insurance.
Obama’s reforms, pushed through Congress in 2010, have enabled millions of people to obtain subsidized health coverage, including millions of previously uninsured Americans.
But for some self-employed entrepreneurs or small-business owners whose income is just above the cut-off for subsidies, the price of insurance obtained through so-called “Obamacare” has increased due to unforeseen effects on insurance markets.
“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,” Clinton told a crowd in Flint late Monday.
“You’ve got this crazy system where all of a sudden 25 million more people have health care, and then the people who are out there busting it, sometimes 60 hours a week, wind up with their premiums doubled and their coverage cut in half,” he added.
“It’s the craziest thing in the world.”
– Thanks for ‘being honest’ –
Clinton continued his argument by explaining that reforms proposed by Hillary would allow more Americans to join the Medicare public insurance plan for the elderly and the Medicaid plan for low-income individuals.
“The insurance model doesn’t work,” Bill Clinton insisted, a criticism made at times by many Democrats who have called for a nationalized system.
But Trump and Republicans, who have tried dozens of times to repeal all or parts of the Affordable Care Act in the six years since it was introduced, gleefully highlighted the criticism from a Democratic stalwart.
“He just said it was a crazy system where people end up with premiums doubled and coverage cut in half. He’s right,” Trump told supporters in Prescott Valley, Arizona.
“I want to think him for being honest,” he added.
“I bet he went through hell last night.”
Asked Tuesday about the flap, Hillary Clinton said she was prepared to tweak Obamacare.
“I have been saying we’ve got to fix what’s broken and keep what works. And that’s exactly what we’re going to do,” she told reporters in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
“It won’t be easy, but it’s a heck of a lot better than starting from scratch, which is unfortunately what the Republicans want us to do.”