DORAL, Florida (AP) — Suddenly armed with fresh political ammunition, Donald Trump and anxious Republicans across the nation seized on spiking health care costs Tuesday in a final-days push to spark election momentum.
The Republican presidential nominee, trekking across must-win Florida, insisted “Obamacare is just blowing up” after the government projected sharp cost increases for President Barack Obama’s signature health care law. Democrat Hillary Clinton, fighting to block Trump in the same battleground state, has vowed to preserve insurance for the millions of American covered under the law, but her team described the cost surge as a “big concern.”
The renewed emphasis on health care gave battered Republican House and Senate candidates a brief respite from months of painful questions about their presidential nominee, who has questioned the integrity of the U.S. election system in recent weeks while facing allegations of sexual misconduct. Trump has denied any wrongdoing.
Blessed with an unexpected political gift, however, it’s unclear whether Trump will be able to capitalize.
“He could make this race for the last two weeks a referendum on Obamacare. But of course he won’t do that,” said former Ted Cruz strategist Chris Wilson. “It’s just a matter of him swatting at flies instead of having a coherent and consistent message.”
Indeed, as Trump vowed to “repeal and replace” the health care law, he opened Tuesday by promoting one of his Florida golf resorts, highlighting the extraordinary intersection between the presidential contender’s business and political interests. Trump is also scheduled to attend Wednesday’s opening of his new Washington hotel.
“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 visit to his golf club before encouraging his employees to praise him at the microphone. He said many of his workers are having “tremendous problems with Obamacare.”
The Doral general manager later clarified that 95 percent of the club’s employees are on company-provided insurance.
The Department of Health and Human Services reported late Monday that premiums will go up sharply next year under the federal health care program, and many consumers will have just one choice for their insurer. Before federal 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.
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