ACA One of Many Points of Contention During Second Clinton-Trump Debate

The second presidential debate, which took place Sunday night at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, allowed candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton to spar over a multitude of issues, including the future of healthcare in America.

The second presidential debate occurred Sunday night at Washington University in St. Louis, allowing candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton to spar over a multitude of issues, including the future of healthcare in America. Trump vowed to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and promote competition among insurance providers, but Clinton promised to fix the unpopular aspects of the ACA while keeping what currently works well.

Though mostly ignored in the first debate, healthcare was brought up in response to the very first question of Sunday night’s highly anticipated town hall debate. When an undecided voter asked the candidates how they model appropriate behavior for today’s youth, Trump denounced “horrible things like Obamacare” as an example of “seeing such foolish things happen to our country.”

The candidates then exchanged heated attacks regarding Trump’s recorded comments about how he might treat women and Clinton’s deleted emails from her tenure as Secretary of State until about 30 minutes into the debate, when the moderators allowed undecided voter Ken Karpowitz to ask about healthcare. “The Affordable Care Act known as Obamacare, it is not affordable,” he said, citing rising premiums, copays, deductibles, and prescription prices. “What will you do to bring the cost down and make coverage better?”

Clinton agreed that costs are too high, but said she would work to fix the ACA instead of repealing it. She listed the parts of the law she said have helped people, including that it added coverage for 20 million more Americans, banned the denial of coverage based on pre-existing conditions, and allowed young adults to stay on their parents’ plans until the age of 26. “If we repeal it as Donald has proposed and start over again, all of those benefits I mentioned are lost to everybody,” Clinton said.

In his response, Trump attacked the ACA as “very bad health insurance, far too expensive” for both the individual and the country, saying he would “repeal and replace it.” He suggested increasing competition by allowing insurers to sell insurance across state lines, and accused Clinton of wanting a single payer plan similar to Canada’s, which he said "would be a disaster.” (Clinton has called for a public option, not a single payer plan.)

Moderator Anderson Cooper of CNN then pressed Clinton on her husband’s comments calling Obamacare “the craziest thing in the world.” She insisted that former president Bill Clinton, who had made the comments during a campaign appearance in Flint, Michigan, had clarified his statement and cautioned that throwing out the ACA would mean “insurance companies get to do pretty much whatever they want.”

When Cooper asked Trump how he would force insurance companies to cover preexisting conditions, Trump replied, “You’re gonna have plans that are so good because we’re going to have so much competition in the insurance industry.” He also said that his plan would “block grant into the states, we’re going to block grant into Medicaid.”

Clinton’s and Trump’s answers on healthcare, though not as personally hostile in tone as some of their other responses, reminded viewers that they must choose between 2 sharply contrasting directions for the nation when they head to the polls November 8, 2016.