Seizing on Rising Costs, Trump Says Health Law Is ‘Over’


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.

“Repealing Obamacare and stopping Hillary’s health care takeover is one of the single most important reasons that we must win on Nov. 8.”

But Mr. Trump almost instantly undercut his new offensive with his tendency to muddy his central message. He appeared uncertain at one point about how the health care law worked for his own employees, and then spent only four minutes on the rate increases during a 45-minute speech at the rally.

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The Department of Health and Human Services reported Monday that premiums for midlevel health plans on the health law’s federal insurance exchange would rise by an average of 25 percent, but in some cities and states, increases will be considerably higher. Mr. Trump asserted that rates would go up “60, 70, 80, 90 percent” — apparently referring to exorbitant jumps in select markets.

Those increases, however, will be cushioned for most people on the exchanges by government subsidies that will rise with the premiums.

Mrs. Clinton, in an interview with a Miami radio station on Tuesday, said she was committed to making “changes to fix problems” in the health law while reaffirming her alliance with President Obama, whose diverse coalition of supporters is crucial to her electoral strategy.

The higher premiums pose an 11th-hour test for Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton in a campaign that has scarcely revolved around policy issues. Mr. Trump has repeatedly struggled to prosecute a political case against Mrs. Clinton, most notably failing to focus in a sustained way this summer on the scathing F.B.I. report on her State Department email.

Whether he can make Mrs. Clinton pay a political price for supporting the Affordable Care Act, and more broadly for championing President Obama’s priorities, will reveal his ability to turn a policy issue into a political weapon at this late stage of the race.

Hillary Clinton has a 92% chance of winning the presidency.

“It needs to be the principal message; you can’t dilute the attack by all the other stuff Trump talks about every day,” said Ed Rollins, a veteran Republican strategist.

For Mrs. Clinton, the problems with the Affordable Care Act could force a reckoning that she had hoped to avoid. As a candidate, she has linked herself more closely to Mr. Obama than any nominee has done with a sitting president in modern times, defending his economic record and praising him for pushing the health law through a sharply divided Congress.

Republicans had hoped that their nominee would force Mrs. Clinton to own the health care law, politically speaking, or at least be forced to defend it, but she has mostly skated past its flaws in cost and coverage. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll in September found that roughly six in 10 adults said the candidates’ plans to address of cost of their health insurancepremiums and deductibles would be very important to their vote for president.

Still, parts of the health law are politically popular. The United States has the lowest percentage of uninsured citizens in its history. Because of the Affordable Care Act, insurers cannot deny coverage for a pre-existing medical condition and cannot cap lifetime coverage. Children can remain on their parents’ policies until age 26.

Mrs. Clinton says she wants to improve the law by increasing the subsidies that help cover premiums and allowing more Americans to receive government help.

She also wants to add a government-run insurance option, which she says would increase competition and choice in the marketplaces created under the health law. And she has proposed allowing people younger than 65 to buy in to Medicare.

In her Miami radio interview, Mrs. Clinton said of those insured by the law, “Look, this is a major step forward: 20 million people.”

She added that “I’m sure you noticed, predominantly working people, African-American, Latino people now have access to insurance, but the costs have gone up too much. So we’re going to really tackle that.”

Mr. Trump says he wants to repeal the health law and take more of a free-market approach. He would reduce federal regulation and coverage requirements so insurance would cost — and cover — less. He would not require Americans to have health insurance, as the Affordable Care Act does.

“By failing to denounce it, Hillary Clinton owns it,” Kellyanne Conway, Mr. Trump’s campaign manager, said of the health care act in an interview on Tuesday.

[Source:-The New Yourk Times]