by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
There’s been a lot of discussion of how Republican presidential candidates would respond to their chance to repeal, replace, or reshape Obamacare. Paige Winfield Cunningham devotes a Washington Examiner article to a related issue: how perceived Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton would respond to her former boss’s signature piece of legislation.
Clinton has consistently praised the law, while at times acknowledging some of its flaws, and even encouraged her fellow Democrats to run on the law last year despite its relative unpopularity.
“The Affordable Care Act will liberate people,” Clinton said at UCLA in March 2014. “You will not have to keep a job that you don’t want because of a pre-existing condition…You will now have more opportunities to take care of yourself and your family.”
A few things could work in Clinton’s favor if she became president. The health care law that has bitterly divided the country for half a decade is nicknamed after Obama, not her. Its supporters hope that Obama’s departure from office will help dispel some of the public dislike.
And Clinton’s keen, longtime interest in health policy makes liberals more confident she can propel forward reforms that are still sorely needed. …
… But it’s precisely her past health reform attempts that could make conservatives extra wary of any moves she makes in the future. They’re likely to view whatever she tries to do with suspicion, especially if it involves a health care law they already dislike.
Its most unpopular part — the individual mandate to buy health coverage—is blamed on Obama, but it was Clinton who championed that proposal during her 2008 race against him. At the time, Obama was hesitant about including a mandate in a potential health reform bill.
Clinton’s 1993 plan would have differed from Obamacare in a big way, namely, how it would extend coverage to those without employer-sponsored insurance. While the Affordable Care Act sends most to state-based exchanges where subsidized plans are available, the Clinton plan would have required all employers to provide coverage through new, regionally-based health insurance cooperatives.
Yet there’s also much overlap between the two. Like Obamacare, Clinton’s plan would also have required individuals to buy coverage, banned insurers from denying coverage to the sick and required health plans to cover certain benefits.