Former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who served under former President Barack Obama and played a major role in crafting the legislation that eventually became Obamacare, was asked Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press" whether former President Bill Clinton "had a point" when he referred to part of Obamacare as "the craziest thing in the world."
Host Chuck Todd, while interviewing the former HHS chief, played a clip of Clinton slamming Obamacare at an Oct. 4 campaign rally for his wife, then-Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton:
The people who are getting killed in this deal [Obamacare] are small business people and individuals who make just a a little too much to get any of these subsidies. So you've got this crazy system where all of a sudden 25 million more people have health care and then the people are out there busting it, sometimes 60 hours a week, wind up with their premiums doubled and their coverage cut in half. It's the craziest thing in the world.
After noting that Republicans "took those comments and a field day with them," Todd asked Sebelius if the former president had a point.
"He does have a point," Sebelius said. "There is a cliff. It was set in this bill as 400 percent of poverty and then you don't any longer have a subsidy in the marketplace right now. About 85 percent of the folks have a subsidy, so any talk of premium increases, that isn't what consumers are paying because actually their subsidies rise with the premiums."
The former HHS secretary was referring to the fact that an individual making up to around $47,000 per year and a family of four making up to around $97,000 per year are eligible for tax credits to help them buy insurance on the Healthcare.gov marketplace.
"Again, this is fixable. You could have a much more graduated subsidy system. You could have a higher income point," Sebelius explained. "That could easily be done to stabilize the marketplace but that wasn't what the Republican Congress wanted to do. They wanted to actually dismantle this bill from the outset."
Taxpayer-funded subsidies and tax credits wouldn't be as much under the new plan presented by Republicans. But, as GOP leaders have argued, the cost of health insurance premiums will not be as high under the new system since costs will be driven down as a result of a reducing government regulations and allowing patients to purchase insurance across state lines, thereby increasing competition.