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For the Record
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Welcome back from your holiday weekend! Hope you took time to grill, drink and mourn the death of summer (unless you live in the Southwest, where Labor Day is seen as a merciful beginning of the end).

Now that we're back, we figured we'd rip off the Band-Aid quickly and plunge into policy. Sorry, brain. Team FTR is talking Obamacare today.

THE PROBLEM

It's in the name: The Affordable Care Act may have extended benefits to and improved the health of millions of people, but for many, it's just not that affordable.

Insurers are bailing out of the federal insurance marketplace all over the country, and those that are staying are jacking up rates because, they say, not enough healthy people (read: those with low health-care costs) are paying into the system, making it unsustainable. Meanwhile, some small businesses are fretting about requirements to offer benefits for workers, and many with employer-provided health plans continue to see premiums increase and benefits cut.

WHERE DON AND HIL STAND

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump agree that health care is too expensive. They disagree on what would bring down costs (allegedly. We'll get into that in a second).

For Clinton, the solution involves defending and expanding Obamacare. Her plan includes mandating lower prescription drug costs and offering incentives for states to expand Medicaid coverage. She also supports a public option (though not as robust as Bernie Sanders's Medicare-for-all idea), allowing people to buy into Medicare at 55.

Trump's solution involves repealing Obamacare and replacing it with something else. His written plan includes allowing the sale of insurance across state lines, allowing people to deduct insurance premiums from their taxes and offering block grants for Medicaid, giving states more freedom to handle the program as they see fit.

But is that where Trump really stands? He said early in his campaign that "everyone's got to be covered" and "the government's gonna pay for it." Earlier this year, he said he liked "the mandate" requiring people to have insurance and that he supported something like Medicare to cover more people (before clarifying on Twitter that he really meant private insurance).

THIRD PARTY VIEWS

If Clinton and Trump are at odds on the issue, Gary Johnson and Jill Stein are no different. It's how you'd expect it, ideologically: Johnson, the Libertarian, is no fan of Obamacare. He says the way to lower costs is via free-market competition. But does that mean Johnson would repeal or modify the Affordable Care Act? Dunno. He's been non-committal.

Meanwhile, Stein, the Green Party candidate, believes health care is a human right and is pushing for a single-payer system. She says such a system would pay for itself.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

Assuming Congress doesn't change much in November, Clinton's support for a public health-care option isn't going anywhere. Obamacare would likely remain, because Clinton would continue to veto any congressional attempts to repeal it.

That said, it was tougher than expected to find any serious analysis of Clinton's plans to lower costs. One columnist pointed out that mandated prices would force insurers to increase premiums, which doesn't really help anything.

Trump says he'd repeal Obamacare on Day 1, something the House would be all to happy to oblige. But what then? The bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Budget estimates that ditching Obamacare's coverage requirements would save $1.1 trillion - but cost $1.6 trillion in lost taxes and Medicare savings. They also estimate 21 million people would lose their coverage, and that Trump's plan would only cover about 5 percent of them.

MORE FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL

• Our poll finds businessman Trump tied with Clinton on jobs (USA TODAY)
• Mike Pence will release his tax returns. But Trump? Still nah (USA TODAY)
• Trump's latest campaign CEO used to be a 'World of Warcraft' gold farmer (Geek)
• Maybe the presidential campaign wouldn't be so dumb if we talked more about science (Des Moines Register)
• Trump wages war on Twitter (again) against a senator who won't endorse him (again) (Arizona Republic)

A LOOSE LINK TO HEALTH CARE

We were looking for something funny about health care to end this newsletter, and jeez, there really isn't anything. Except wait - there is. We present you the mother lode of "Scrubs" quotes on Pinterest.




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