Clinton says Sanders could undo PPACANews added by Benefits Pro on January 20, 2016

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By Jack Craver

Hillary Clinton is no longer just calling Bernie Sanders’ left-wing policy proposals impractical; she’s now calling them dangerous.

In a Sunday night debate with her chief rival for the Democratic nomination for president, the former secretary of state suggested that the Vermont senator’s calls for a single-payer system could undermine the expansions of health care that Democrats have achieved through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

“But to tear it up and start over again, pushing our country back into that kind of a contentious debate, I think is the wrong direction,” she said during an exchange with Sanders.

Clinton also reminded voters how difficult it was to get PPACA passed even when Democrats had sizeable majorities in both houses of Congress.

To envision an even more radical restructuring of U.S. health care is delusional, she suggested.

Although Clinton did not explicitly say that Democrats will likely remain the minority party in Congress for years to come, she did remind viewers that Republicans are likely to remain a major obstacle that a Democratic president will have to reckon with.

“The Republicans just voted last week to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and thank goodness, President Obama vetoed it and saved Obamacare for the American people,” she said.

"We have the Affordable Care Act," she added. "Let's make it work."

Sanders, for his part, called Clinton’s criticisms disingenuous, saying that there was no reason to believe that his plans to eventually put in place a single-payer health care system would jeopardize existing programs.

His plan, he said, would realize the vision of former Democratic presidents to make health care a right granted to citizens, rather than a business.

“What a Medicare-for-all program does is finally provide in this country health care for every man, woman and child as a right,” he said. “Now, the truth is, that Frank Delano Roosevelt, Harry Truman, do you know what they believed in? They believed that health care should be available to all of our people.”

In her 2008 primary race against then-Sen. Barack Obama, Clinton similarly made the pragmatic argument in favor of mandating health insurance, saying that part of the problem was young, healthy people who didn’t bother getting coverage.

At the time, Obama dismissed her claim as a misdiagnosis of the problem, but later adopted the individual mandate as a central tenet of the PPACA.

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