Hillary Clinton previewed her fixes to the Affordable Care Act on Monday, telling an audience in Louisiana that while the law it working, there is still more than needs to be done to improve it.
Attaching herself to one of President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievements, Clinton used an organizing event in Baton Rouge – her first in the state as a candidate – to slam Republican attempts to repeal the law.
“All of the Republicans candidates for president are determined to get rid of the Affordable Care,” she said. “I will tell you, I am not going to let them rip away the progress we made, I am not going to let them tear up that law, kick 16 million people off health coverage and force this country to start the health care debate all over again. Not on my watch.”
Clinton plans to use the coming week – and a series of events in Little Rock, Arkansas, and Des Moines, Iowa – to outline what she feels is working in Obamacare, and more notably, what isn’t.
On Monday, Clinton said she would “build on the progress” made by Obamacare, singling out bringing down health care costs, easing burdens on small businesses and increasing choice.
Clinton highlighted “skyrocketing out of pocket health care costs and particularly run away prescription drug prices.”
She said she would announce this week a plan to cap “how much you have to pay out of pocket for prescription drugs each month” and promised to “hold drug companies accountable as we work to drive down prices.”
Clinton’s speech offered a stark contrast to Republican members of Congress and presidential hopefuls who oppose the plan and pledge to take it apart as president.
Because she was standing in his home state, Clinton singled out Louisiana’s Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal for rejecting “federal dollars that would have paid to expand Medicaid.”
“He put ideology ahead of the well being of the people of this state,” she said.
The largely African-American audience, which included a 170-person marching band that played Clinton in and out of the event, booed Jindal at every mention of his name.
Jindal, a GOP presindential candidate, called Clinton the “godmother of socialized medicine” in a statement Monday, arguing that the only reason Clinton came to Louisiana was to “distract the voters from her email scandal.”
The former first lady has pledged to defend the law throughout the presidential race and routinely mentions that she failed to pass health care reform in the early 1990s.
“I still have the scars to show it,” she said of the effort at a August event in Las Vegas.
Although Clinton regularly touts Obamacare – she told a cheering audience in New Hampshire earlier this month that “the Affordable Care Act is here to stay” – she has previously outlined aspects of the law that she doesn’t support and would like to see changed.
The candidate has lately embraced addressing rising prescription drug costs by bargaining with drug companies for lower prices and examining the tax on the premium health care plans, something unpopular with political important unions.
“I would be the first to say if things aren’t working, then we need people of good faith to come together and make evidence-based changes,” Clinton said in February 2014.
The most concrete change Clinton has embraced is the law’s small business mandate, which requires businesses with 50 or more full-time employees to offer health insurance of pay a penalty. At the same February speech Clinton endorsed addressing businesses “moving people from full-time work to part-time work to try to avoid contributing to their health care.”
Clinton also suggested at a paid health care speech in October 2014 that people who disagree about Obamacare’s medical device tax should be able to “begin to sort it out.”
The medical device tax is a 2.3% excise tax created in part to fund Obamacare; it went into effect at the beginning of 2013. The tax, which helps fund the law, is unpopular with Democrats and Republicans alike, especially those with ties to the medical devices industry.
The Clinton campaign, as part of the health care push, will also urge their supporters to get involved by starting an online petition against the law’s repeal.