WASHINGTON (AFP) — Donald Trump vowed Tuesday to overturn President Barack Obama’s signature health insurance program after the government announced Americans will see costs jump an average of 25 percent next year.
“Obamacare has to be repealed and replaced and it has to be replaced with something much less expensive for the people, otherwise this country is in even bigger trouble than everybody thought,” the Republican presidential candidate said in at his golf course in Doral, Florida.
“We’re going to repeal and replace Obamacare.”
The Department of Health and Human Services said in a new report that the big increase in insurance costs will be seen in the 38 states with federally-managed health care exchanges.
It is the largest jump in premiums for the program, now entering its fourth year, and stoked the tense battle between Trump and Democratic rival Hillary Clinton to replace Obama in the White House.
Since the start of the officially-named Affordable Care Act, Republicans have repeatedly tried to overturn it.
It has allowed millions of uninsured people to get health insurance, with no limits based on “pre-existing conditions.” The effect has been to reduce the number of individuals across the country without insurance to 8.6 percent from 16% in 2010, HHS said.
Despite the sharp increase, the HHS report said most consumers will see rate hikes below the average rate due to premium caps and subsidies for those with lower incomes.
Trump quickly lashed out on Twitter following the report: “#Obamacare premiums are about to SKYROCKET — again. Crooked H will only make it worse. We will repeal & replace!”
Speaking in Florida, he also disputed the government’s figures, saying costs are rising much higher.
“Obamacare is just blowing up and even the White House, our president, announced 25 or 26 percent (increases). That number is so wrong. That is such a phony number. You’re talking about 60, 70, 80 percent in increases, not 25 percent,” Trump said, without explaining where he got his numbers.
Trump said the increase for Texas is 60%, but the HHS report said premiums there are expected to increase by an average of just 18%.
However, Arizona — which has not voted for a Democrat for president since Bill Clinton in 1996 — will see eye-popping 116% increases.
Arizona Senator John McCain, a Republican, said: “As I have long warned, Obamacare is an unsustainable system that places an unfair financial burden on families and small businesses.”
McCain noted that the state’s largest county has only one insurance provider under Obamacare, when the health care exchanges were supposed to create competition among providers.
Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan compared Obama’s healthcare program to ill-fated and now-discontinued Samsung phones that were catching fire.
“The president recently compared Obamacare to a Samsung Galaxy Note 7, and he’s right: this disastrous law is blowing up. But at least you can return the phone,” Ryan said in a statement.