Bill Clinton's Obamacare treatment
August 28th, 2013
09:43 AM ET
11 months ago

Bill Clinton's Obamacare treatment

Updated at 11:07 a.m. ET on 8/28

(CNN) – As the clock ticks down to key elements of President Barack Obama's health care law taking effect, former President Bill Clinton will provide a defense of the controversial measure in a speech next week at his presidential library in Arkansas.

The announcement of Clinton's address comes on the same day a new national poll indicates that half the public remains in the dark about the Affordable Care Act.

The September 4 remarks will center on the "critical role a high quality, affordable and accessible health care system plays in the United States and any country's economic and social well being," according to a release from Clinton's charitable foundation.

Enrollment in the health care exchanges that form the core of the Affordable Care Act begin October 1, and members of Obama's administration have been hurriedly pitching the marketplaces to healthy young people, whose participation is necessary for rates to remain low.

On Twitter, Obama's senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer suggested Clinton's speech would help Americans better understand the health care law.

That brings back memories of Clinton's speech on behalf of the president at last summer's Democratic convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, when the former president defended the current president's record and polices on the economy. At the time, Obama joked that Clinton needed to be made "secretary of explaining stuff."

A survey from the non-profit Kaiser Family Foundation, which frequently conducts polling on the health care law, points toward a need for more explaining about the measure.

Fifty-one percent of Americans questioned in the survey, which was released Wednesday, say they don't have enough information about the law "to understand how it will impact them and their family." That number has been pretty consistent in Kaiser polling since the law was passed in 2010.

The poll indicates the percentage who feel they don't have enough information about the law stands at 64% among Hispanics, 62% among those without insurance and among adults under age 25, and 60% among low income families.

The survey also points to confusion over the health care law's status, with 44% believing either the measure has been repealed (8%), overturned by the Supreme Court (5%), or unsure whether it still remains a law (31%). None of those things have happened.

The poll's release, which comes as two separate tours dedicated to defunding the nation's health care law continue to crisscross the country, also indicates that more than half the public opposes cutting off funding for the measure. Fifty-seven percent of those questioned say they don't support defunding the law, with 36% saying they favor such a move.

The poll indicates that nearly seven in ten are against defunding the measure, commonly referred to as Obamacare, because "the appropriate way to stop a law is to repeal it, or not to pass it in the first place." And 56% say that "without funding, the law will be crippled and won't work as planned, which is not good for its supporters or opponents."

Some conservative lawmakers, including Senators Ted Cruz of Texas, Marco Rubio of Florida and Mike Lee of Utah, are using upcoming budget battles as leverage, vowing to oppose any measure that provides funding for the federal government that includes funding for the health care law. The measure funding the federal government expires September 30, setting up another Capitol Hill budget battle between congressional Republicans and the White House.

But so far only slightly more than a dozen fellow Republican senators have signed up to support the cause, leaving it up to outside conservative groups to rally the base.

In an interview with CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley that ran Sunday on "State of the Union," Cruz conceded that "we do not have the votes right now," noting that to succeed, he'd need 41 senators or 218 representatives to get behind his legislation - which would provide a year of funding for the federal government, minus Obamacare.

But the Texas Republican argued a coming "grass-roots tsunami" would bring over fellow conservatives to his side in the next month.

To help in that cause, two conservative groups, the Tea Party Patriots and ForAmerica, this week launched a tour to pressure Republican members of Congress to join the push to defund the health care law. And Heritage Action, which is a sister organization of the Heritage Foundation, one of the oldest and largest conservative think tanks, is in the second week of a nine-stop "Defund Obamacare Tour" of townhalls.


Filed under: Bill Clinton • Health care
soundoff (73 Responses)
  1. The Real Tom Paine

    -Fair is Fair

    @ Tom Paine -

    "Ok, I'll bite: what is the real goal of the ACA? Please, don't bother with an answer that talks about Obama taking us down the road to socialism, or some other nonsense: I would like to think you're better than that."
    --–
    Tom, seriously? The ACA is just an incremental step towards single-payer. Nothing more, nothing less. That's not "nonsense"... it's an objective opinion shared by many, both on the left and on the right
    ***************
    Then why inject the cliff-hanger comment? You ended up sounding like a conspiracy nut. The ACA was the answer TO single-payer, which is something most thinking people already know. Please avoid slippery-slope arguements when you clearly know better.

    August 28, 2013 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  2. Sniffit

    Conservative demagoguery is boring.

    August 28, 2013 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  3. Data Driven

    @Gunderson,

    "Can anyone say Gestapo"

    Everyone can say that. Here's MY question, though: can YOU say it to a survivor, or his/her descendant, of Hitler's death camps? Are you going to tell a Holocaust survivor, to his or her face, that an insurance law equals Gestapo terror? If so, good luck to you. If not, I suggest refraining from such comparisons in the future.

    I'm getting REALLY tired of the irresponsible "nazi" comparisons.

    August 28, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  4. The Real Tom Paine

    -Hector Slagg

    WOW,
    Bill Clinton speak again? The Bill Clinton that said, WE COULD LET YOU KEEP MORE OF YOUR MONEY, BUT YOU WOULDN'T KNOW HOW TO SPEND IT. That Bill Clinton? Well he would know. Who has any money to spend anyway. Have you looked at advertiziments for new Cars. They can't give them away, nobody has any money! The people put the liberal's in charge of the government. Real intellegent. Selling Obama Care? Beware of Liberal's bearing gifts. And please Liberal's, DON'T DO ME ANY MORE FAVORS, I CAN'T AFFORD 'EM.
    ***************
    New name, but no new ideas: what a surprise. You still can't spell, RayE. (Georgia), and you are continuing to distribute your revisionist history out of your intellectual Pez dispenser as well.

    August 28, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  5. California Gary

    When the big dog speaks, all listen. If anyone can clear up some of the misconceptions floating around out there about the ACA, it's Bill.

    August 28, 2013 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  6. Anonymous

    "Okay, I'll submit to instruction. Explain this and educate some liberals here."

    Another lecture from Fair? Thanks, but no thanks.

    August 28, 2013 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  7. cmml

    It's telling that those who the law benefits most don't know anything about it. Wonder if the CBO has taken that into consideration when they put together their estimates.

    August 28, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  8. Data Driven

    @Tom Paine,

    "intellectual Pez dispenser"

    You don't have that phrase copyrighted, do you? Coz that's so good I might just steal it!

    August 28, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  9. cmml

    Maybe Bill will tell people the truth about the ACA:

    1.) It allows people to have pre existing conditions
    2.) You can stay on dad's plan until your 26
    3.) It's a $1.1 Trillion tax increase
    4.) It doesn't change the cost curve at all (except possibly make health care more expensive)
    5.) It forces people who don't want or need health insurance to buy it anyway in order to subsidize those with pre existing conditions – And yes, those who are subsidizing (age 27 – 33) – are the same group who we plan to leave a $70 Trillion debt and unfunded liability to when we die.

    Good job America!

    August 28, 2013 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  10. Fair is Fair

    @ Data Driven -

    Government sponsored health insurance plans (Medicare, Medicaid, and now the ACA) dictate what the reimbursment will be for every service rendered. These reimbursements are far less than those of private health insurance. In fact, if a provider were to service patients ONLY from government sponsored plans, they wouldn't be able to afford to keep their doors open. The provider then engages in what is known as cost-shifting. Here's what happens. The provider raises his fees, say for an office visit, from $100 to $150. Government plans don't care... they're going to pay him $40 no matter how much is billed.Private insurance, on the other hand, typically pays a percentage of billed amount, say for this example, 80%. So he used to be reimbursed $80 when he charged $100, now he's getting $120 for billing $150. He uses that $40 difference to offset the loss he took seeing the patient on the government sponsored plan.

    The more people on the government plan(s), the more often the provider needs to increase fees. And we are an aging society, with the boomers beginning to flood Medicare. In fact, if you were to compare a graph of healthcare inflation over time to a graph of Medicare covered lives over time, you'd probably be startled at the similarity.

    The data are out there in the public domain if you look for it. Being Data Driven, you'd probably find it quite interesting.

    August 28, 2013 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  11. Sniffit

    "Good job America!"

    And everything you said is either completely incorrect or a gross mischaracterization of the ACA, how it functions and the effect it will have.

    Good job cmml!

    August 28, 2013 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  12. ja

    the gop is on board with this strike on syria, what are the end costs, bullets and bombs always find agreements across party lines, not healthcare for all

    August 28, 2013 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  13. Data Driven

    @Fair,

    Thanks again for another substantive post.

    First of all, you sound like you work in some capacity in the medical or medical insurance field, so I'm willing to defer to superior knowledge. But here's the biggest problem I have with your post: you're talking as if government is the insurance company. My understanding is that it's not in the case of Obamacare. Won't insurance companies still reimburse providers? If so, I think your concerns about doctors pricing us all out of health care are misplaced.

    Meanwhile, I will take your advice and look up those charts tonight. I do love data.

    August 28, 2013 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  14. 724brooke

    California has already rolled out the healthcare exchange and you know what? rates were lower than expected. I for one have insurance through my place of employment but bet I'll be able to find a better deal on the exchange when it finally kicks off in my state! Healthcare reform needed to happen and I think this will be a good start.

    August 28, 2013 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  15. Patty

    Thank goodness someone close to the administration is explaining the ACA. While I admit, the ACA isn't perfect (and I believe Mr. Obama has said that he considers it a work in progress – except for the fact that, unfortunately, Congress is not working these days to improve or do anything...) it's certainly a step in the right direction. We cannot return to what we had before – where the insurance companies called all the shots and even practiced medicine, much to the chagrin of many doctors. I think the right way to go is to build onto the ACA. It's a great foundation for better healthcare in this country.

    August 28, 2013 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  16. Fair is Fair

    @ Data Driven

    "First of all, you sound like you work in some capacity in the medical or medical insurance field, so I'm willing to defer to superior knowledge. But here's the biggest problem I have with your post: you're talking as if government is the insurance company. My understanding is that it's not in the case of Obamacare. Won't insurance companies still reimburse providers? If so, I think your concerns about doctors pricing us all out of health care are misplaced."
    ------–
    I'm a nurse, but I'm quite aware of the billing practices in the medical field. Private insurers handle all the claim payment & administration for the government (Medicare / Medicaid) plans already... one can make an informed assumption that they are going to implement something similar for the ACA... in other words, if what they're doing to adminster what's out there now works (in the arena of reimbursement schedules, anyway), they'll likely replicate it for the ACA. No need to reinvent the wheel.

    August 28, 2013 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  17. Rudy NYC

    Data Driven

    @Fair,

    Thanks again for another substantive post.

    First of all, you sound like you work in some capacity in the medical or medical insurance field, so I'm willing to defer to superior knowledge. But here's the biggest problem I have with your post: you're talking as if government is the insurance company.
    ---------------–
    Fair's argument is based upon a totally false assumption. "In fact, if a provider were to service patients ONLY from government sponsored plans, they wouldn't be able to afford to keep their doors open. " Fair overlooks one thing, the truth.

    If providers were to service patients ONLY from Medicare, then they would not be servicing patients that have no insurance who would not pay them a dime. One of the biggest drivers of higher fees charged by care providers is providing services for those with no insurance. A driver of higher fees is malpractice insurance, which is a self serving ponzi scheme, not all that different from house assessments being made by the same banks issuing mortgages to people..

    August 28, 2013 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  18. Minne Mouse

    I think the government needs to issue letters to all residents in the USA, regarding the "Affordable Care Act". Do you all realize how many people that are not political, who don't watch the news, don't read the news papers and don't have the inter-net either. I think it's the right thing to do and especially because your going to start giving people fines who do not purchase have healthcare insurance.

    I 100% agree with Bill Clinton that there are many people who absolutely know nothing about the "Affordable Care Act".

    It's the fair and right thing to do by to letting the people of the states all know about the "Affordable Care Act" as to how it works, how people can get assistance, what the fines and penalties are ect.. everything that we all need to know.

    We have a right to know because now it's a state wide law for everyone and your plans are to fine us if we don't purchase something.

    August 28, 2013 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  19. just saying

    nobody is in the dark about obamacare! this is the most high visibility train wreck this country has ever seen. billions has already been spent trying to sell this pig with lipstick to the american people. democrats, liberals and leftists think the american people are idiots that just need to be educated about how good it will be when they lose their coverage and doctor and have to pay far more for their healthcare.

    August 28, 2013 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  20. The REAL Truth...

    Fair, with all due respect, you post above mirrored that of the prior "intellectual Pez dispenser".
    First, cost shifting happens today WITH ALL insurance sources, ALL the time. It has NOTHING to do with the source of the plan being Govt or private.

    You go to a Dr. They charge $175 for your visit.. Based on contract price with Ins. Co, they get $78. With your co-pay (depending on plan... $20 and up) lets say they collect $100. Next week you'll get a bill in the mail for the remaining $75 that you agreed to cover (remember that form you were required to fill out before you saw the Dr?). It makes no difference whether you've met your deductible or not. This happens whether its a Govt plan or not. IMO, it should be illegal. Dr either accepts the Ins or doesn't. Billing me for the cost differential violates my contract with the provider.

    August 28, 2013 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  21. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote:

    I'm a nurse, but I'm quite aware of the billing practices in the medical field. Private insurers handle all the claim payment & administration for the government (Medicare / Medicaid) plans already... one can make an informed assumption that they are going to implement something similar for the ACA...
    ----------------------
    Well, if that's the case, then those "government run death panels" don't exist and never will. They're going to be run the same way that they've always been run, by private industry looking to make the most profit.

    We need to get rid of this cottage industry of middlemen that Bush created. All that they are really doing is skimming a handsome profit out of the cash stream, paying themselves handsome 6 and 7 figure salaries, complete with matching bonuses at year's end.

    August 28, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  22. Fair is Fair

    "If providers were to service patients ONLY from Medicare, then they would not be servicing patients that have no insurance who would not pay them a dime. One of the biggest drivers of higher fees charged by care providers is providing services for those with no insurance. A driver of higher fees is malpractice insurance, which is a self serving ponzi scheme, not all that different from house assessments being made by the same banks issuing mortgages to people.."
    --------
    Naturally, Rudy Einstein feels it necessary to chime in on something he has absolutely NO knowledge of whatsoever. Unreimbursed care does indeed contribute to higher fees... but nowhere near the amount as cost shifting. Not even close. Malpractice insurance is also a factor, true... this is one of the reasons the medical field was scratching their collective heads as to why tort reform didn't merit a 1-paragraph mention into a 2500-page bill. The fact of the matter is when 40 million or so new folks enter the system at substandard reimbursement rates, the only place for fees for srvice to go is up.

    I really wish that the solution chosen was much more consumer driven. If the consumer of healthcare services was wiser in how they spend their healthcare dollars, competion for those dollars would drive prices down. That's not going to be possible unless the consumer has more skin in the game.

    August 28, 2013 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  23. chris

    why are Democrats like Howard dean and other Democrats coming out and saying Sarah Palin Was Right about death Panels In Obamacare. Now, former presidential candidate Howard Dean has essentially admitted they were right and is calling for the repeal of the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). In a Wall Street Journal op-ed Monday he called the IPAB “essentially a health-care rationing body” that he believes will fail.

    “There does have to be control of costs in our health-care system. However, rate setting — the essential mechanism of the IPAB — has a 40-year track record of failure,” Dean wrote.

    Dean, who is a healthcare industry representative as a senior adviser at the law and lobbying firm McKenna Long & Aldridge, said his experience as governor of Vermont turned him off to government control of healthcare prices.

    August 28, 2013 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  24. somebody

    @Fair is Fair
    I believe the ACA exchanges are for subsidized private insurance which is different than Medicare and Medicaid.

    My insurance is though my employer and I'll continue to have coverage as the ACA goes into full effect. Prescription drug costs have already gone down for my family this year.

    August 28, 2013 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  25. Fair is Fair

    The REAL Truth...

    Fair, with all due respect, you post above mirrored that of the prior "intellectual Pez dispenser".
    First, cost shifting happens today WITH ALL insurance sources, ALL the time. It has NOTHING to do with the source of the plan being Govt or private.

    You go to a Dr. They charge $175 for your visit.. Based on contract price with Ins. Co, they get $78. With your co-pay (depending on plan... $20 and up) lets say they collect $100. Next week you'll get a bill in the mail for the remaining $75 that you agreed to cover (remember that form you were required to fill out before you saw the Dr?). It makes no difference whether you've met your deductible or not. This happens whether its a Govt plan or not. IMO, it should be illegal. Dr either accepts the Ins or doesn't. Billing me for the cost differential violates my contract with the provider.
    ------–
    @ Real Truth -

    There's probably hundreds if not thousands of different health plans and they all work differently... but I will tell you this. In the example you gave, the Dr. charging the remaining $75 is in violation of his contract with the insurance company... and YOU. If the Dr. agrees to a contracted amount with an insurance company for a given service, the most he can be reimbursed for that service from all sources (direct payment from patient, copayment / coinsurance, and direct payment from insurance carrier) CANNOT exceed the agreed upon contracted price. If that happened to you, I'd start by contacting the carrier, as they're the ones who enforce the contracts with providers.

    August 28, 2013 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
1 2 3