Hillarycare Would Improve On The Affordable Care Act : Shots - Health News Rather than sweeping reform, Clinton's health plan is a collection of tweaks to the Affordable Care Act. The proposed changes are aimed at trimming consumer costs and improving coverage.
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Hillary Clinton Hitches Her Health Care Wagon To Obamacare

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Hillary Clinton Hitches Her Health Care Wagon To Obamacare

Hillary Clinton Hitches Her Health Care Wagon To Obamacare

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Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is proposing to tear down the U.S. health insurance system and turn it over to the federal government. Hillary Clinton says she wants to do some remodeling of the current system. NPR's Alison Kodjak reports that Clinton is embracing President Obama's signature health care plan as her own.

ALISON KODJAK, BYLINE: Hillary Clinton wants you to know that she was doing health care before health care was cool.


HILLARY CLINTON: You know, before it was called Obamacare, it was called Hillarycare.

KODJAK: That was in Elko, Nev., last week, but it's pretty much a stock line these days in her speeches and debates. The term Hillarycare was coined when Clinton tried and failed at health care reform in the '90s. It was supposed to be an insult, but now she's embracing it. That's because Clinton-the-presidential-candidate has made the Affordable Care Act the center of her health care plan. Here she is in Houston on Saturday.


CLINTON: We will push forward every single day together to build on the progress we've made under President Obama to defend the Affordable Care Act and to improve it.

KODJAK: Her proposal's basically take Obamacare and then nip and tuck.

DREW ALTMAN: Secretary Clinton is focused mostly on her support for the ACA to draw a line between herself and Senator Sanders, who she asserts has a pie-in-the-sky single-payer plan.

KODJAK: That's Drew Altman, president of the Kaiser Family Foundation.

ALTMAN: There are as many as 20 separate proposals and none of them by themselves a giant proposals. Each one is an incremental step, but taken together it actually is a significant package of what I think of as beyond the ACA consumer-oriented proposals.

KODJAK: Altman says Kaiser's own polls show voters are angry because their health care costs keep going up. Deductibles and co-pays are rising much faster than premiums. Clinton would offer a tax credit for people who spend a lot of their own money on health care. She'd make it harder for health insurance companies to merge. And drug companies are a big target. Clinton says she'd get rid of tax deductions for all those TV ads and she'd force the companies to boost what they spend on research. But this smorgasbord of proposals doesn't generate the huge applause like Sanders does when he promises free health care for everyone.


BERNIE SANDERS: And that is guarantee health care to all people as a right.


KODJAK: Voters don't seem so excited by Clinton's incremental approach. So today, she added support for what's called a public option. It allows for government-run insurance to compete with private health plans. Henry Aaron is a health care economist at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

HENRY AARON: Her bona fides as knowledgeable on health insurance really are beyond question whether you agree with her positions or not. And she understands that a lot of the changes are somewhat down in the weeds.

KODJAK: There are only so many experts who can vote, but there are plenty of people in the health care industry ready to fight Clinton's proposals that could change how they do business. Robert Zirkelbach is a spokesman with PhRMA, the lobbying group for the pharmaceutical industry.

ROBERT ZIRKELBACH: Putting in place onerous regulations and mandates that make it harder to develop new treatments and cures for patients is the wrong approach.

KODJAK: He says medications hold down health costs because they keep people out of hospitals, so Clinton shouldn't be making drug companies the bad guys.

ZIRKELBACH: These proposals are being driven by the false notion that medicine spending is what is fueling rising health care costs in this country.

KODJAK: Clinton will have to fend off attacks from PhRMA and others in the health care industry. And she'll have to win over Democrats who have embraced Sanders' plans. Alison Kodjak, NPR News, Washington.

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