Donald Trump declared Tuesday that "Obamacare is just blowing up," hoping for powerful late-campaign ammunition against Hillary Clinton after the government projected sharp cost increases for President Barack Obama's health care program.
Just two weeks before Election Day, the New York businessman addressed the health care development during an appearance at one of his Florida golf resorts that highlighted the extraordinary intersection of his business and political interests. His message was somewhat scattershot, leaving questions of how well he and his party can capitalize on a revived emphasis on "Obamacare."
"We're down in Florida. We're at Trump National Doral. And it's one of the great places on earth," Trump said during a surprise visit to his golf club before encouraging his employees to praise him at the microphone. He suggested that many of his workers are having "tremendous problems with Obamacare" while highlighting a report that predicted premium increases of roughly 25 percent for the coming year.
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A Doral employee later clarified that 95 percent of the club's employees are on company-provided insurance.
Trump vowed anew to "repeal and replace" the president's signature health care overhaul. Clinton says she wants to keep the best of the program but make improvements.
The Department of Health and Human Services reported Monday that premiums will go up sharply next year under the health care program, and many consumers will be down to just one choice for their insurer. Before taxpayer-provided subsidies, premiums for a midlevel benchmark plan will increase an average of 25 percent across the 39 states served by the federally run online market. Some states will see much bigger jumps, others less.
The report gives some Republicans some new hope in the presidential contest's final days as Trump's path to the White House narrows.
The Clinton campaign responded Tuesday afternoon that, while the Democratic candidate "wants to build on the progress we've made and fix what's broken" with the Affordable Care Act, Trump would "rip up the ACA, reverse the progress we have made and start this fight all over again."
"Clinton has a serious plan to improve choices and increase competition, including a public option and a Medicare buy-in," a campaign spokesman said. "She'll also do more for small businesses, take on the pharmaceutical companies for driving up drug prices and provide tax relief for out-of-pocket expenses."
Trump is scheduled to make two more appearances in Florida Tuesday, in which he's expected to continue to focus on health care.