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Hillary Clinton defends Obamacare, but open to changes: report

Former first lady Hillary Clinton sits down before the Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washing
Former first lady Hillary Clinton sits down before the Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washing

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Hillary Clinton, who leads the pack of potential Democratic 2016 presidential contenders, defended Obamacare on Wednesday but added she was open to "evidence-based changes" in the program, CNN reported.

President Barack Obama's signature healthcare reform law is shaping up as a hot-button campaign issue in congressional elections in November and possibly the 2016 White House race.

The law, which seeks to extend health coverage to millions of uninsured or underinsured people, has been under steady attack by Republicans, who say it is too costly, kills jobs and robs many Americans of healthcare choices.

"I think we are on the right track in many respects," CNN quoted Clinton as saying in remarks in Orlando, Florida, to the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society.

"But I would be the first to say if things aren't working, then we need people of good faith to come together and make evidence-based changes," said Clinton, who led a failed effort to pass healthcare reform during the administration of her husband, Bill Clinton.

Among issues she said should be addressed were small businesses of 50 or more employees providing health coverage and companies moving people to part-time from full-time work to avoid making healthcare contributions.

Clinton praised Obamacare for allowing people under 26 to stay on their parents' healthcare plans and broadening access to preventive care.

She said all the "misinformation" was making it difficult to discuss the law in Washington.

"Part of the challenge is to clear away all the smoke and try to figure out what is working and what isn't," Clinton, who served as secretary of state in Obama's first term, was quoted by CNN as saying.

"What do we need to do to try to fix this? Because it would be a great tragedy, in my opinion, to take away what has now been provided."

(Writing by Peter Cooney; Editing by Ken Wills)

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