Hilary Clinton gave a lecture yesterday at UCLA, and in the midst of her full-throated defense of the basic benefits of the law, some interesting subtext emerged. Politico:
Clinton suggested she’s open to different ways of achieving the health law’s goals. She praised Arkansas — the state where she and her husband rose to political fame — for carrying out a new approach to expanding Medicaid coverage, by using the federal money to buy private health insurance for more than 100,000 low-income residents […]Clinton has already suggested she’s open to changes in the law, particularly for small-business owners who are worried about the impact of the law and for people whose work hours are being reduced so their employers don’t have to offer them health coverage.
Of course she’s not going to come out and disown Obamacare, and its likely that much of her support for the law is genuine. But in signaling her willingness to revisit certain provisions, she’s embodying a new Democratic approach to the law. Democrats are increasingly open about admitting the flaws of the law even as they continue to defend it against repeal.Some of where this newfound flexibility takes them still poses a problem for conservative ACA critics. They think, for example, that the Arkansas approach praised by Clinton is a mess. But nevertheless the left’s new willingness to cop to the law’s flaws is definitely a shift the critics can appreciate.If this keeps up through the midterms, it could become a nexus joining some of the more moderate critics of the law to its supporters. As left-of-center wonks like Matt Yglesias have argued, the most plausible conservative replacement plans for Obamacare currently out there have some overlap with the ACA. Though Yglesias may be overstating his case, it’s true that there would be ways to tweak the existing ACA so that it became more like a law the center-right could get behind. Perhaps that’s just what we would see from a Clinton presidency.