Clinton, Trump spar over Medicare and ACA in final debate

In the third and final presidential debate, healthcare policy once again found its way into the mix.

Debate moderator Chris Wallace asked both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump whether they would agree to a “grand bargain on entitlements” that would save Medicare and Social Security by instituting tax increases and benefit cuts. In its most recent report, Medicare trustees estimate that the program’s trust fund will run out by 2028.

Trump replied that he was going to “grow the economy” at a “record rate of growth,” then pivoted to his platform of repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, characterizing it--as he had in the second debate--as a “disaster.”

He also noted that the healthcare reform law is “probably going to die of its own weight,” arguing that premiums are going up 60, 70, 80 and as much as 100 percent next year.

In fact, premiums are on the rise--including a 50 percent hike for the market leader in some states--but increases greater than 80 percent are "rare," according to a New York Times fact check.

For Clinton’s part, she said she won't cut Social Security benefits and that she will increase Social Security payroll contributions. The Democatic nominee added that the ACA extended the solvency of the Medicare trust fund. So if Trump repeals the law, “our Medicare problem gets worse,” she said.

A July report from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities warrants Clinton's claim: The CBPP report notes that the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund is projected to remain solvent 11 years longer than before the ACA was enacted. A 2015 report from The Commonwealth Fund comes to a similar conclusion, but notes that “other factors, including the recent recession, are also responsible" for lower Medicare spending projections.

Clinton continued that she wants to target “long-term healthcare drivers” as president by emphasizing individual wellness to reduce costs and increase value.