Former President Bill Clinton criticized the Affordable Care Act at a campaign event Monday, saying the way President Obama’s signature legislative accomplishment works in practice is “the craziest thing in the world.”
“You’ve got this crazy system where all of a sudden 25 million more people have healthcare and then the people are out there busting it sometimes 60 hours a week wind up with their premiums doubled and their coverage cut in half,” he said in Flint, Mich. “It’s the craziest thing in the world.”
Still, Clinton said repealing the Affordable Care Act—as Republican nominee Donald Trump wants to do—isn’t the answer.
“We’ve got to figure out what to do now on healthcare. [Hillary Clinton’s] opponent said, ‘Oh, just repeal it all, the market will take care of it,’” he said. “That didn’t work out very well for us, did it? We wound up with the most expensive system in the world. We insure the smallest percentage of people.”
The system works for people who are eligible for Medicaid or for other insurance subsidies, Clinton added, but not for middle-class families who make too much to get government assistance but still have trouble affording high premiums.“
“Here’s the simplest thing: figure out an affordable rate and let people use that, something that won’t undermine your quality of life, won’t interfere with your ability to pay expenses, won’t interfere with your ability to save money for your kid’s college education,” Clinton continued, in a remark that seemed to call for a something like a public option. In a New England Journal of Medicine opinion piece published last week, Hillary Clinton also called for a public option to be available in every state.
Angel Urena, a spokesman for Bill Clinton, said in a statement to various news outlets that his comments were taken out of context, and that Clinton supports the ACA but believes it could be improved.
“President Clinton spoke about the importance of the ACA and the good it has done to expand coverage for millions of Americans,” he said. “And while he was slightly short-handed, it’s clear to everyone, including President Obama, that improvements are needed.”
Asked about Clinton’s comments Tuesday morning on “CBS This Morning,” Hillary Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook said the former president was referring to the way the health care system used to work.
“Well what he was referring to was the health care system [touches earpiece] both as it used to be and then sometimes what happens in some of these markets, you know, where basically the marketplace skews the cost,” Mook said. “This is exactly why we’ve got to do something about premium increases.”