Pence: Clinton-Kaine Want to 'Build on Obamacare,' 'Expand It Into a Single-Payer System'

Susan Jones | October 5, 2016 | 7:23am EDT
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Democrat Hillary Clinton wants to defend and expand the Affordable Care Act, making a 'public option' possible. (AP File Photo)

( - Republican Gov. Mike Pence mentioned "Obamacare" six times at Tuesday night's debate, but Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) never addressed it, even when Pence said Kaine and Hillary Clinton want to expand Obamacare into a government-run, taxpayer-funded system.

"I think he's a very fitting running mate for Hillary Clinton," Pence said of Kaine, "because in the wake of a season where American families are struggling in this economy under the weight of higher taxes and Obamacare and the war on coal and the stifling avalanche of regulation coming out of this administration, Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine want more of the same.

"It really is remarkable that they actually are advocating a trillion dollars in tax increases...more regulation, more of the same war on coal, and more of Obamacare that now even former President Bill Clinton calls Obamacare a crazy plan. But Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine want to build on Obamacare. They want to expand it into a single-payer program. And for all the world, Hillary Clinton just thinks Obamacare is a good start."

Speaking Monday at a campaign rally in Michigan, Hillary Clinton's husband called Obamacare "crazy."

"So 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. It's the craziest thing in the world," Bill Clinton said.

But a day later, Bill Clinton said the Affordable Care Act "did a world of good," and he criticized Republicans for trying to repeal it 50 times.

"We, for the first time in our history, at least are providing insurance to more than 90 percent of our people," Bill Clinton said on Tuesday. "But there is a group of people -- mostly small business owners and employees -- who make just a little too much money to qualify for Medicaid expansion or for the tax incentives who can't get affordable health insurance premiums in a lot of places. And the reason is they're not in big pools, so they have no bargaining power."

Pence said he and Donald Trump, as part of their plan to get the economy moving, will repeal Obamacare, "lock, stock and barrel."

Kaine mentioned health care in passing at the end of the debate. But he wasn't talking about the failing Affordable Care Act. He was burnishing Hillary Clinton's credentials:

As Senator, she was on the Armed Services Committee, Kaine said. "She worked across the aisle when she was first lady to get the CHIP program passed so that 8 million low-income kids have health insurance in this country, including 150,000 in Indiana.

"She worked across the aisle after 9/11 to get health benefits for the first responders who bravely went into the towers and into the Pentagon. She worked to get benefits for -- TRICARE benefits for National Guard members, including Hoosiers and Virginians in the National Guard.

"She has a track record of working across the aisle to make things happen," Kaine said.

According to her campaign website, Hillary Clinton will "defend and expand the Affordable Care Act." "Hillary will stand up to Republican-led attacks on this landmark law -- and build on its success to bring the promise of affordable health care to more people and make a 'public option' possible. She will also support letting people over 55 years old buy into Medicare."

Donald Trump says he would repeal and replace Obamacare with Health Savings Accounts. He says he would work with Congress to create a "patient-centered" system; work with states to establish high-risk pools to cover individuals who lack continuous coverage; allow people to buy insurance across state lines, "creating a dynamic  market"; and give states block grants so local leaders can design "innovative Medicaid programs" for poor people.

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