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Trump and Clinton squeeze ACA and Medicare into debate

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Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton talked — briefly — about Medicare, Social Security and the Affordable Care Act last night during the third and final 2016 presidential debate.

The candidates met in Las Vegas, in a session moderated by Fox News anchor Chris Wallace.

Organizers said Wallace would ask the candidates about the federal budget deficit, and about federal ”entitlement” programs — Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and a few other big social welfare programs.

Related: New president may have to focus on health, D.C. insider say

The candidates spent most of the night talking about international trade, other foreign policy topics, abortion and each other.

Toward the end of the night, Wallace said the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has concluded that neither Clinton nor Trump has a serious plan to keep Medicare solvent. He asked the candidates whether they would agree to a “grand bargain,” or a combination of tax increases and benefits cuts, to keep Medicare and Social Security solvent.

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What they said

Trump said he would save the entitlement programs by cutting taxes and growing the economy. Economic growth will improve entitlement program solvency, he said.

“And one thing we have to do is repeal and replace the disaster known as Obamacare,” Trump said. “It’s destroying our country, it’s destroying our businesses … . If we don’t repeal and replace it, it’s probably going to die of its own weight. But Obamacare has to go.”

ACA premiums are going up from 60 percent to 80 percent this year, and more than 100 percent next year, Trump said.

Clinton wants to keep the Affordable Care Act and make it even worse, Trump added. ”And it can’t get any worse,” he said. “Bad health care at the most expensive price.”

Clinton said Trump’s plan to repeal the ACA would hurt Medicare.

“The Affordable Care Act extended the solvency of the Medicare trust fund,” Clinton said. “So, if he repeals it, our Medicare problem gets worse. What we need to do is go after the long-term health care drivers. We’ve got to get the cost down, increase value, and emphasize wellness. I have a plan for doing that. And I think that we will be able to get entitlement spending under control with more resources and smarter decisions.”

Clinton said that she would not cut entitlement program benefits, and that she would strengthen the Social Security trust fund with an increase in taxes on the wealthy. 

“My Social Security payroll contribution will go up, as will Donald’s, assuming he can’t figure out how to get out of it,” Clinton said. 

“Such a nasty woman,” Trump said.


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