Clinton: Obamacare ‘Needs Fixing’

Newly released recording reveals private Clinton remarks to donors

Hillary Clinton gestures to President Barack Obama during the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia / AP
October 3, 2016

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton took a shot at President Obama’s landmark health care program in private remarks to donors even as she pledged to defend the law, according to audio of her remarks obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

Parts of the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, "need fixing," Clinton told donors during a September 2015 fundraiser at the Marriott Marquis hotel in Washington, D.C.

The remarks were captured in an audio recording sent by campaign volunteer Ian Mellul to Nick Merrill, Clinton’s traveling press secretary. The email containing the recording was one of thousands released by hackers believed to have ties to the Russian government.

Clinton pledged to defend the health care law at the fundraiser last year, but also said she would work to shore up its weaknesses.

Obamacare "has done a lot of good, but I’m gonna fix some of the things that need fixing. It’s like any other new program," Clinton said. "We’ve got to make it work even better." The Obamacare comments come at the 9:00 mark.

Merrill did not respond to questions about which parts of the law Clinton feels need to be fixed.

The hacked audio was released a week after the Washington Free Beacon first reported on another recording of Clinton’s private remarks at a separate event. In that recording, Clinton signaled opposition to a major Obama administration policy to modernize the U.S. nuclear weapons program.

Mellul, a White House advance staffer who has volunteered for the Clinton campaign since last year, recorded both audio clips. He has been paid more than $10,000 for expense reimbursements and "event consulting," according to Federal Election Commission records.

The audio of Clinton’s remarks last year provides additional insight into her private conversations with top supporters and how those conversations compare to her public remarks on the campaign trail.

Clinton has largely avoided discussing Obamacare since she kicked off her presidential bid, even as she has touted her work on other major health care reform initiatives, including a 1993 Clinton White House effort that she led.

Clinton’s campaign website reiterates her commitment to defending the law but makes no mention of its supposed defects or proposals to fix them.

In remarks just days before the September fundraiser captured in Mellul’s recording, Clinton expressed dismay at the state of American health care.

"Lots of Americans still don't even have insurance, or they do but it's too expensive for them to actually use," she said at the time.

Obamacare has been plagued by bad news lately, with major insurers withdrawing from its insurance markets and states announcing large rate increases.

Republicans have pointed to those problems to support their longstanding opposition to the law. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has sought to tie Clinton to Obamacare’s shortcomings.