US Elections 2016

Bill Clinton slams 'crazy' Obamacare

NEW YORK • Former US president Bill Clinton ignited a mini-firestorm when he lambasted the post-Obamacare healthcare system on Monday as "the craziest thing in the world".

The comment seemed to be a devastating attack on President Barack Obama's signature domestic achievement, which Mr Clinton's wife, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, strongly supports.

Mr Clinton said the current system "works fine" for seniors eligible for Medicare, lower-income people eligible for Medicaid and middle-income people eligible for subsidies. "The people that are getting killed in this deal are small-business people and individuals who make just a little too much to get any of these subsidies," Mr Clinton said at a campaign rally in Flint, Michigan.

"You've got this crazy system where all of a sudden 25 million more people have healthcare, 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," he said. "It's the craziest thing in the world."

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Republicans, who have tried dozens of times to repeal all or parts of the Affordable Care Act, gleefully highlighted the criticism. "He just said it was a crazy system where people end up with premiums doubled and coverage cut in half. He's right," Mr Trump told supporters in Prescott Valley, Arizona.

The former president has a reputation for speaking in a more freewheeling style than his wife on the campaign trail, and his remarks created a hiccup for her just five weeks from election day.

Asked on Tuesday about the flap, Mrs Clinton said she was prepared to tweak Obamacare. "I have been saying we've got to fix what's broken and keep what works," she told reporters.

"It's a heck of a lot better than starting from scratch, which is unfortunately what the Republicans want us to do."

Mr Clinton tried clarifying himself at a rally in Athens, Ohio, on Tuesday. "Look, the Affordable Care Act did a world of good... We for the first time in our history at least are providing insurance to more than 90 per cent of our people."

BLOOMBERG, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 06, 2016, with the headline 'Bill Clinton slams 'crazy' Obamacare'. Print Edition | Subscribe