Clinton, Trump debate healthcare: 7 statements, fact-checked

Presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton swapped barbs Sunday night in the town hall debate, each accusing the other of living in "an alternative reality," or blaming lies "on the late great Abraham Lincoln."

With open calls from the candidates for fact checking of one another, it's hard to know what was true, what was false and what was slightly distorted. Here is how well seven claims about healthcare from Mr. Trump and Ms. Clinton stand up to the facts.

1. Mr. Trump: "When I watch what's happening with some horrible things like Obamacare where your health insurance and healthcare is going up by numbers that are astronomical: 68 percent, 59 percent, 71 percent."

Mr. Trump claimed last fall health insurance premiums "are going up 35, 45, 55 percent," according to PolitiFact. The fact checking website says some insurance plans will hike premiums up at the rates he stated last fall, but that those numbers are not the norm. The national average increase is estimated to be between 4.4 percent and 13 percent, according to PolitiFact.
Verdict: Mostly false

2. Ms. Clinton: "Right now we are at 90% health insurance coverage. That's the highest we have ever been, in our country. I want to get to 100% and get cost down and quality up."

Ms. Clinton touted the Affordable Care Act for giving 20 million more Americans health insurance coverage. According to CNN, which cites data from the National Health Interview Survey from the CDC, the first three months of 2016 clocked an uninsured rate of 8.6 percent, meaning 91.4 percent of Americans had health insurance. Other measures, such as that of the U.S. Census Bureau, put the insured rate at 90.9 percent for all or part of 2015. Gallup estimates 89 percent of Americans had health insurance in the first quarter of 2016.
Verdict: True  

3. Mr. Trump: "Obamacare will never work. It's very bad, very bad health insurance, far too expensive, and not only expensive for the person that has it, unbelievably expensive for our country. It's going to be one of the biggest line items very shortly."

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget tweeted during the debate that the ACA is not going to be one of the biggest budget items shortly. The tweet shows a graph demonstrating the ACA falls below Social Security, Medicare, defense, interest and non-ACA Medicaid as a major line item in the federal budget, and the ACA continues to fall below these line items through 2026.
Verdict: False

4. Mr. Trump: "She wants to go to single payer, which means the government basically rules everything. Hillary Clinton has been after this for years."

Though Ms. Clinton was said to step left on healthcare to capture a greater portion of the voter base of her previous contender, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., she has not voiced support for a single payer plan. In fact, in January she said single-payer healthcare is "a theoretical debate about some better idea that will never, ever come to pass," according to CBS News.
Verdict: False

5. Mr. Trump: "If you ever noticed, the Canadians, when they need a big operation, when something happens, they come into the U.S. in many cases. Because their system is so slow, it's catastrophic in certain ways."

Canadian think tank Fraser Institute published a bulletin in March 2015 that more than 52,000 Canadians sought medical treatment outside their country in 2014. Fraser Institute said long wait times are one explanation for why some Canadians are leaving the country for healthcare. However, with a population of more than 35.5 million in 2014, 52,000 people seeking care outside the country is a small percentage.
Verdict: Somewhat true

6. Ms. Clinton: "Eight million kids every year have health insurance because when I was first lady I worked with Democrats and Republicans to create the children's health insurance program."

PolitiFact determined this claim to be "largely accurate." The website previously checked that the Children's Health Insurance Program, which was passed by Congress in 1997 when Ms. Clinton was first lady, does provide health insurance for more than 8 million children. Former Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., received most of the credit for the program, but told the Associated Press in 2007 that CHIP wouldn't exist if it had not been for Ms. Clinton, according to PolitiFact.
Verdict: True

7. Mr. Trump: "President Obama by keeping those lines, the boundary lines around each state and it was almost done until just towards the end of the passage of Obamacare. Which by the way was a fraud. You know that. Because Jonathan Gruber, the architect of Obamacare was said, he said it was a great lie, it was a big lie."

Jonathan Gruber, PhD, is an economics professor at MIT in Boston, who denied he was the "architect" of the law while testifying before the House in 2014, according to Politico. While Dr. Gruber has raised questions about the ACA and said the law passed due to a lack of transparency and "the stupidity of the American voter," he told the Boston Business Journal in an email Mr. Trump had a "garbage salad of right wing talking points" on healthcare.
Verdict: Mostly false


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