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Trump Blasts Obamacare At His Miami Golf Course But Misstates Employees' Coverage

Donald Trump speaks during an campaign event with employees at Trump National Doral, Tuesday in Miami.
Evan Vucci
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump seized on rising health insurance premiums Tuesday as evidence that "Obamacare is just blowing up."

But the general manager of a Trump golf course in Florida corrected his boss for suggesting that Trump's own employees would be personally affected.

"All of my employees are having a tremendous problem with Obamacare," Trump told reporters during an appearance at the National Doral Golf Club in Miami. "What they're going through with their health care is horrible because of Obamacare."

In fact, the club's general manager David Feder said "more than 95 percent" of the club's employees receive health insurance through the company, so they're not affected by the sharp premium increases on government-run exchanges.

The Obama administration announced this week that premiums for 2017 on those exchanges will increase by an average of 22 percent nationwide.

Trump called that number an understatement.

"That is such a phony number," Trump said. "You're talking about 60, 70, 80 percent in increases."

Customers in some states will see increases in that range, but the premiums vary widely from state to state. The benchmark plan in Arizona will cost 116 percent more next year. Premiums in Indiana and Massachusetts are actually going down by about 3 percent.

The average increase of 22 percent nationwide follows much smaller increases of 7.5 percent this year and 2 percent in 2015. When Obamacare began, many insurance companies priced their policies too low and ended up losing money. Today's premiums are roughly in line with what government forecasters initially predicted.

The administration notes that most people who buy insurance on the government-run exchanges receive subsidies, which could offset some or all of the price increase.

But Trump, like other critics of the Affordable Care Act, is not impressed.

"Obamacare has to be repealed and replaced," Trump told reporters. "Otherwise, this country is in even bigger trouble than anybody thought."

Trump's health care plan calls for an expansion of Health Savings Accounts, which allow consumers to buy insurance with pre-tax dollars. He would also allow insurance companies to market their policies across state lines.

That would not necessarily help many of the 20 million people who gained health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act, pushing the nation's uninsured rate to an all-time low.

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Scott Horsley is NPR's Chief Economics Correspondent. He reports on ups and downs in the national economy as well as fault lines between booming and busting communities.