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Bill, you silver-tongued devil, you...


Bill Clinton said a stupid about the Affordable Care Act Monday, for which he should probably be given a C- in Doing Politics Right, especially this late in the campaign. In describing gaps in the ACA's coverage, he handed Republicans a delicious sound bite, using the phrase "this crazy system," which was bad enough. But he also screwed the proverbial pooch in misidentifying where the real problems with the current system lie, and that's where we progressives need to yell at him some, too. Now Bill's doing the walkback two-step, clarifying that no, he didn't mean Obamacare is crazy, he meant the law's implementation has resulted in crazy disparities in coverage and affordability, both of which Hillary Clinton wants to fix. The solution is to make the ACA work better, not to throw the whole thing out and go back to the good old days of preexisting conditions and people going bankrupt after a serious illness. Dang it, Bill, we knew what you were getting at, you big lug. But jeez, thanks a heck of a lot for giving the R's a toy to play with.

At a campaign appearance Monday in Flint, Michigan, Bill pointed out gaps in the ACA that needed to be fixed -- which, by the way, was the case with both Social Security and Medicare when they were initially implemented. Except back in the olden times, Congress was able to fix things occasionally, not simply vow to blow them up and start over while screaming about socialism:

The current system works fine if you're eligible for Medicaid, if you're a lower income working person. If you're already on Medicare or if you get enough subsidies on a modest income that you can afford your healthcare. But the people that are getting killed in this deal is small business people and individuals who make just a little too much to get any of these subsidies. Why? Because they're not organized, they don't have any bargaining power with insurance companies, and they're getting whacked. So 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. It's the craziest thing in the world.

In context, it's pretty clear Clinton was talking about gaps that need fixing, not an utterly unworkable system that needed to be scrapped -- especially when he starts by saying that repealing Obamacare and letting the market fix everything is a terrible idea. He went on to talk up the solutions that Hillary Clinton wants to implement to fix those gaps, like creating a public option and allowing people to buy in to Medicare and Medicaid.

Worse, for our money (or lack of it), Bill was focusing on the wrong affordability gap: yes, it's hard for middle class people who earn too much for subsidies. That sucks. But it doesn't suck nearly as much as the gap that resulted from the Supreme Court's decision that Medicaid expansion could be left up to the states. That resulted in Republican-dominated states refusing to expand Medicaid and left a huge number of people who make too much to qualify for Medicaid (like any income at all) but not enough for ACA subsidies. They're in a much bigger insurance hole, and that's not just inconvenient, it's actually killing people.

Not that anyone paid attention to any of those points, because LOOK, EVEN BILL CLINTON SAID OBAMACARE IS A CRAZY SYSTEM THAT DOESN'T WORK!!!!!! Context? Context doesn't exist!

Donald Trump was of course delighted; on Tuesday, he said Bill "was not a very good surrogate" (just hours before his own Veep candidate denied him more than thrice before the cock crew, as they say in the Shire). And Kellyanne Conway was right on it, too:

So the R's have another line they can quote out of context -- shades of "you didn't build that" -- and we suppose the only up side is that now we can talk about the fixes that are needed, especially to help people in Republican-run states that refused to expand Medicaid. On Wednesday, Bill Clinton tried again, saying "I strongly supported that bill" and taking care to avoid the "c" word altogether:

Yes, there are problems, he said, but when you have legislation that has had overall positive results, with some problems, you fix the problems; you don't pine for the good old days when a far higher percentage of Americans had no health coverage.

Republicans want to repeal the law, their idea of solving the problem is to take 20 million who got insurance and take it away from them... Hillary’s idea is recognize what the problem is.

Considering all the other madness in this election, it seems unlikely Bill Clinton's dopey mistake is likely to become a huge issue, but we'd also recommend supporters of the ACA keep a link to this Gallup survey bookmarked, because by spring of this year, the U.S. had the lowest uninsured rate in ... forever.

Throwing away that much progress -- for Trump's "really terrific" alternative that makes about as much sense as his doctor's letter -- really would be crazy.

[NBC News / New England Journal of Medicine / HuffPo / Gallup]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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