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We may be getting ahead of ourselves assuming that Hillary Clinton will be next president, but let’s proceed on that (comforting) notion. Few are better prepared to preserve and improve upon the Affordable Care Act than Clinton, who’s long immersed herself in health care policy.

Obamacare is complicated — built that way to get past an army of vested interests and a hard wall of Republican opposition. But though it has things that need fixing, all in all, the program has been a success.

Obamacare has brought coverage to some 20 million more Americans. It’s made individual insurance cheaper than it was in 2010, according to Health Affairs. Average premiums are down. (The premiums going up would have risen more without the law.) And surprise, Obamacare will cost $2.6 trillion less over five years than earlier estimated, a recent Urban Institute study reports.

One undeniable frustration has been the high cost of coverage for many in the marketplace. Now some of those “found” trillions could go to raising subsidies, making coverage more affordable.

Clinton proposes a “buy in” option to Medicare for Americans 55 to 65. One must currently be 65 or older to automatically qualify for Medicare. Clinton would pay for this Medicare expansion through a higher investment surtax for upper-income people.

Lowering the Medicare age is a fine idea on several counts. Medicare has been good at controlling the cost of health care, and the beneficiaries love it. Since older people tend to use more health care than younger groups, moving them into Medicare takes some pressure off the insurers in Obamacare. At the same time, bringing younger old people into Medicare strengthens the Medicare risk pool.

Bernie Sanders promoted “Medicare for All” in his presidential run, and the idea is solid. Clinton’s gradual approach, “Medicare for More,” with better-planned funding, tops it for political palatability.

Assessing Donald Trump’s health care plan takes no time at all. Trump says he’d repeal Obamacare and replace it with “something terrific.”

The Republican House replacement plan, released by Speaker Paul Ryan in June, offers more specifics. To its credit, the proposal recognizes the need for a strong government hand in guaranteeing access to health care — even as it opens the window for more privatization, which adds complexity.

Gone would be the mandate requiring everyone to obtain health coverage. To discourage people from seeking coverage only after they’ve become sick, the proposal lets insurers charge what they may to those who hadn’t been buying insurance. The average Joe understands the risks of not maintaining coverage and of getting seriously ill. Right?

Unlike Obamacare, the House Republican plan sets no national standards for minimum coverage: Ordinary people will read, study and compare insurance policies. Perhaps.

The Republican plan takes away from older Americans. It would not lower but raise the Medicare age to 67. This would unfortunately make the Medicare risk pool older and sicker. The proposal would also let private insurers charge a lot more than they do now to those not quite old enough for Medicare. Last but hardly least, it would move Medicare toward a voucher system.

The most serious flaw in the Republican plan is what’s missing: a price. If you’re not going to say how much it’s going to cost, why not throw in free facials on fur-lined couches?

Notably few Republicans these days call for repealing Obamacare without a replacement. A fully fleshed-out alternative would be most appreciated.

Clinton remains intent on keeping and making it better. Happily, the likelihood of her being in charge is rising. Health care mechanics is Clinton’s specialty, and that’s more good news for Obamacare.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached atfharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Web page at www.creators.com.

Photo: The office building of health insurer Anthem is seen in Los Angeles, California February 5, 2015.   REUTERS/Gus Ruelas

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  • 1.Why did Trump choose to hide certain specific files and not others at Mar-a-Lago? What were the criteria that Trump used to keep some files concealed and not others? Who selected those files? Did Trump consult or direct anyone in his selection of secret files? Trump was notorious for being too impatient to read his briefing papers, even after they had been drastically shortened and simplified. Is there the slightest evidence that he spirited these papers away so that he could consult or study them? Who besides Trump knew of the presence of the files he had concealed at Mar-a-Lago?
  • 2. Mar-a-Lago has an infamous reputation for being open to penetration even by foreign spies. In 2019, the FBI arrested a Chinese woman who had entered the property with electronic devices. She was convicted of trespassing, lying to the Secret Service, and sentenced and served eight-months in a federal prison, before being deported to China. Have other individuals with possible links to foreign intelligence operations been present at Mar-a-Lago?
  • 3. Did members of Trump's Secret Service detail have knowledge of his secret storage of the files at Mar-a-Lago? What was the relationship of the Secret Service detail to the FBI? Did the Secret Service, or any agent, disclose information about the files to the FBI?
  • 4. Trump's designated representatives to the National Archives are Kash Patel and John Solomon, co-conspirators in the investigations into Russian interference in the presidential election of 2016, the Ukraine missiles-for-political dirt scandal that led to the first impeachment in 2019, and the coup of 2020. Neither has any professional background in handling archival materials. Patel, a die-hard Trump loyalist whose last job in the administration was as chief of staff to the Acting Secretary of Defense, was supposedly involved in Trump’s “declassification” of some files. Patel has stated, “Trump declassified whole sets of materials in anticipation of leaving government that he thought the American public should have the right to read themselves."
  • The White House counsel failed to generate the paperwork to change the classification markings, but that doesn’t mean the information wasn’t declassified.” If Pat Cipollone, the White House legal counsel, did not “generate the paperwork,” was he or anyone on his staff aware at all of the declassifications? The White House Staff Secretary Derek Lyons resigned his post in December 2020. Did his successor, who held the position for a month, while Trump was consumed with plotting his coup, ever review the material found in Trump’s concealed files for declassification? Or did Patel review the material? Can Patel name any individual who properly reviewed the supposed declassification?
  • 5. Why did Trump keep his pardon of Roger Stone among his secret files? Was it somehow to maintain leverage over Stone? What would that leverage be? Would it involve Stone's role as a conduit with the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers during the coup? Or is there another pardon in Trump’s files for Stone, a secret pardon for his activities in the January 6th insurrection? Because of the sweeping nature of the pardon clause, pardons can remain undisclosed (until needed). Pardons are self-executing, require no justification and are not subject to court review beyond the fact of their timely execution. In other words, a court may verify the pardon was valid in time but has no power to review appropriateness. A pardon could even be oral but would need to be verifiable by a witness. Do the files contain secret pardons for Trump himself, members of his family, members of the Congress, and other co-conspirators?
  • 6.Was the FBI warrant obtained to block the imminent circulation or sale of information in the files to foreign powers? Does the affidavit of the informant at Mar-a-Lago, which has not been released, provide information about Trump’s monetization that required urgency in executing the warrant? Did Trump monetize information in any of the files? How? With whom? Any foreign power or entity? Was the Saudi payment from its sovereign wealth fund for the LIV Golf Tournament at Trump’s Bedminster Golf Club for a service that Trump rendered, an exchange of anything of value or information that was in the files? If it involved information in the files was it about nuclear programs? Was it about the nuclear program of Israel? How much exactly was the Saudi payment for the golf tournament? The Saudi sovereign wealth fund gave Jared Kushner and former Trump Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin $2 billion for their startup hedge fund, Affinity Partners. Do the Saudis regard that investment as partial payment for Trump’s transfer of nuclear information? Were Kushner or Mnuchin aware of the secret files at Mar-a-Lago?
  • 7.Did Trump destroy any of the files? If so, when? Did those files contain incriminating information? Did he destroy any files after he received the June subpoena?
  • 8.Were any of the secrets of our allies compromised? Has the U.S. government provided an inventory of breaches or potential breaches to our allies?
  • 9.Does the resort maintain a copying machine near the classified documents that Trump hid? Were any of the documents copied or scanned? Are Trump’s documents at Mar-a-Lago originals or copies? Were any copies shown or given to anyone?
  • 10.Trump’s lawyer Christina Bobb has revealed that a video surveillance system covers the places where Trump hid the files at Mar-a-Lago, and that the system is connected to a system at his other residences at the Bedminster Golf Club in New Jersey and Trump Tower in New York City. According to Bobb, Trump and members of his family observed the FBI search and seizure of his files at Mar-a-Lago, “actually able to see the whole thing” through their surveillance system. Who has that surveillance system recorded entering the rooms where the files were kept?

Kevin Bacon, right, in "The Following"

The aftermath of the August 8, 2022 search of the Mar-a-Lago club, former President Donald Trump’s Florida home, isn’t the first showdown between the FBI and a cult leader.

The Following, a 2013 Fox Pictures series, played out in similar fashion. Three seasons was enough for the producers and it’s been nine years since our introduction to Joe Carroll, English professor-novelist-serial killer, so there’s a spoiler risk -- but not enough to prevent the comparison.

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