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Bill Clinton Attempts to Clarify Scathing Obamacare Comments

"Look, the Affordable Health Care Act did a world of good," the former president said Tuesday after facing backlash for his previous comments.
Former President Bill Clinton speaks, Monday, Oct. 3, 2016 at Northbank Center in downtown Flint, Mich. Clinton is campaigning for his wife, 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, in Michigan.Jake May / AP

Bill Clinton attempted to clarify comments he made slamming the Affordable Care Act as creating a situation that he described as the “craziest thing in the world,” saying on Tuesday that President Obama’s signature legislation did a "world of good."

"Look, the Affordable Health Care Act did a world of good, and the 50-something efforts to repeal it that the Republicans have staged were a terrible mistake," Clinton said at an event in Athens, Ohio. "We for the first time in our history at least are providing insurance to more than 90 percent of our people."

The former president caused headaches for Democrats on Monday when he criticized the law for offering no solution to small business owners or workers who make too much to benefit from government subsidies for health care, many of whom have seen their premiums rise.

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“The current system works fine if you’re eligible for Medicaid, if you’re a lower income working person. If you’re already on Medicare or if you get enough subsidies on a modest income that you can afford your healthcare,” he said in Flint, Michigan, while speaking at a campaign rally on behalf of his wife.

Clinton continued: “But the people that are getting killed in this deal is small business people and individuals who make just 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 healthcare 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."

He went on to call for Americans to be able to buy into Medicare or Medicaid — effectively what Hillary Clinton’s proposed in her own health care reform plan, which includes a promise to “pursue efforts to give Americans in every state in the country the choice of a public-option insurance plan, and to expand Medicare.”

Bill Clinton's spokesman Angel Urena acknowledged that the former president was "slightly short-handed" with his comments, but emphasized that "it's clear to everyone, including President Obama, that improvements are needed."

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But Donald Trump on Tuesday reveled in Bill Clinton's comments, saying the former president was "not a very good surrogate."

"I bet he went through hell last night," he said. "Can you imagine what he went through after making that statement? He went through hell, but you know, honestly, there have been many nights where he's gone through hell with Hillary in all fairness."

Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway tweeted that Bill Clinton's comments were “just delicious.”

Asked whether Bill Clinton gaffed, Hillary Clinton said "I think he made it clear what he was saying."

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest on Monday acknowledged that the law may need to be revised.

"What I would also say is that since the very first day the president signed this bill into law, he acknowledged an openness to working with Democrats or Republicans in Congress to further strengthen it," he said. "And we have seen a sustained commitment on the part of Republicans to trying to tear down that law."