Trump Seizes on Obamacare Cost Increases to Try to Boost Campaign

Trailing in most polls, the Republican presidential nominee zeroed in on news that premiums for the Affordable Care Act will rise next year.

Trump: Repealing Obamacare Is Going to Be ‘So Easy’
Photographer: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Donald Trump took dead aim at Obamacare Tuesday, hoping to use news about skyrocketing premiums as a sword to cut into Hillary Clinton’s sizable lead in the presidential race and put his Democratic rival on the defensive.

“This election is going to be about Obamacare. It’s going to be about jobs,” Trump said at a Tuesday morning event in Miami. “Obamacare is just blowing up.”

By evening, the embattled Republican nominee had sharpened his attacks on the healthcare program. 

“It’s killing our businesses. It’s killing our small businesses. And it’s killing individuals,” he said in Tallahassee, his fifth event of the day in the crucial swing state.

Trump, who is at a disadvantage in polling nationally and in most battleground states, is trying to capitalize on voter dismay over new government data that shows premiums for health plans offered through the Affordable Care Act will increase by an average of 25 percent next year. The Department of Health and Human Services said consumer choice will narrow as insurers leave the program. As a result, one in five Obamacare consumers will have only one available insurance company option.

Clinton in a Tuesday interview with WHQT radio in Miami agreed that “the costs have gone up too much.”

“So we’re going to really tackle that,” she said. “We’re going to get copays and premiums and deductibles down. We’re going to tackle prescription drug costs.”

In the midst of a three-day campaign swing through Florida, where early voting began Monday, Trump repeatedly lashed out against President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law. Trump told audiences that the Affordable Care Act's premium increases will actually be 60 percent to 80 percent. 

“Hillary Clinton wants to double down on Obamacare. She wants to put the government totally in charge of your health care despite the fact it’s no good, it will be much more expensive,” he said at a rally at an airport hangar in Sanford.

Trump said he’d repeal Obamacare and replace it with a better system, but on Tuesday did not provide details on such a plan. In the past, he has called for a free-market system that would let people fully deduct health insurance premium payments from their tax returns, and make tax-free contributions to health savings accounts.

“We’re going to have such great health care at a tiny fraction of the cost and it’s going to be so easy,” he said. 

Clinton said fixes can be made to Obamacare “without ripping away the insurance that people now have,” she said.

“That’s the plan of my opponent – take everything away, give it all back to the insurance companies. And if you think costs have gone up with the recent weeks, it’ll just skyrocket up because insurance companies will be in charge again,” she said on Miami radio.

Perhaps sensing that the focus on the rising premiums might give Trump an issue when he needs it most, Democratic National Committee interim chair Donna Brazile also jumped into the fray Tuesday. 

“Trump’s latest claim that the Affordable Care Act is ‘blowing up’ is as unfounded as his claim that he’s ‘winning the election.’ The fact is: 20 million Americans have coverage under the ACA who wouldn’t otherwise, and the national uninsured rate is at its lowest in our nation’s history," Brazile said. "It’s true that some premiums for midlevel health plans on the federal exchange could rise in the future, but it’s also true that for most Americans on those plans, their ACA subsidies will rise to keep the plans affordable."

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