Clinton: Obama should ‘honor commitment’ on keeping health plans
November 12th, 2013
11:53 AM ET
5 years ago

Clinton: Obama should ‘honor commitment’ on keeping health plans

Updated 11/12/2013 at 2:19pm ET

(CNN) – President Barack Obama has already apologized to Americans who lost their health plans under the Affordable Care Act. Now Bill Clinton is calling on his fellow Democrat to find a way to uphold an earlier vow that those who like their insurance plans can keep them.

"I personally believe, even if it takes a change in the law, the president should honor the commitment the federal government made to those people and let them keep what they've got," Clinton said during an interview with the website

Clinton did, however, spend much of the interview defending the 2010 health care overhaul.

"The big lesson is that we're better off with this law than without it," he said.

"The enrollment period didn't come off well because the national website wasn't ready," Clinton noted. "But this happened once before. It happened when President Bush put in the Medicare drug program for seniors, which was not as complicated, but had exactly the same problem with the roll out. It was a disaster. There were people that lost their prescriptions for their existing medicine. And they fixed it."

Obama agrees with Clinton's assessment, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday.

The President "has pledged to task his team" to find solutions for people who have lost their plans despite assurances made before the law's passage, Carney told reporters during the White House press briefing.

Carney also said – as administration officials have previously noted – that the initial Obamacare enrollment numbers will be released by the end of the week, and “will be lower than we hoped and we anticipated.”

Also wading into the controversy, former GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin had some much tougher words for Obama on Tuesday.

In an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper, Palin recalled statements Clinton made during the 2008 Democratic primaries, when the former president was stumping for his wife.

"I'll never forget Bill Clinton saying about Barack Obama and his story, his agenda, that it was the biggest fairy tale he'd ever seen," Palin said.

"And he was right, because Barack Obama was not qualified, he was not prepared, and the manifestation of that today is the problem that we see left and right in our economy," she added.

The full interview on "The Lead with Jake Tapper" will air at 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday.

For his part, Speaker John Boehner said Tuesday that Clinton’s comments “signify a growing recognition that Americans were misled when they were promised that they could keep their coverage under President Obama’s health care law."

The House of Representatives is slated to vote later this week on a GOP-backed measure that would enact changes to Obamacare allowing insurance companies to continue offering individual plans that are currently being canceled because they don't meet the Affordable Care Act's standards for coverage.

While congressional Democrats are largely standing by the law, a number of them are trying to distance themselves from problems tied to the rollout. Among other things, some Democrats are pushing for an extension of the enrollment period or a delay in the penalty for not obtaining coverage.

Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the number two Democrat in the Senate, said Tuesday it was a mistake for Obama to have not fully explained his comments on individuals being able to keep their plans.

"A couple more sentences added would clarify it," Durbin told CNN. "The President apologized. He said very clearly he was sorry if he misled people."

When Obama apologized last week to people who were losing their health coverage "based on assurances they got from me," he added that he was asking his advisers to look at ways in which the law could be altered.

"I've assigned my team to see what we can do to close some of the holes and gaps in the law, because, you know, my intention is to lift up and make sure the insurance that people buy is effective – that it's actually going to deliver what they think they're purchasing," Obama said.

Officials later said those changes could include administrative fixes to the law.

–CNN's Bryan Koenig and Sherisse Pham contributed to this report.

Filed under: Bill Clinton • Health care • Obamacare • President Obama
soundoff (357 Responses)
  1. Rick McDaniel

    He can not. He already eliminated any possibility of that, by his own alterations of the law.........surpassing the Congress, and making his OWN laws........against our Constitutional process.

    November 12, 2013 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  2. The REAL Truth...

    Makes sense... but don't hold your breath on the Obstructionist and Tealiban Party's buying into any of it.. they have no plans, no platform and no healthcare objectives but to REPEAL ACA. Negotiation and valid, viable changes to the law to make it better and work for ALL Americans is NOT on their RADAR!
    Why not??? Because without repeal of ACA as political capital, there is absolutely NOTHING that the GOP have to run on in 2014 and 2016. And they KNOW that!!

    November 12, 2013 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  3. Fair is Fair

    Well, yes, Bubba. He should. Let's have one of his stooges in congress start drawing up the legislation... try as he might, I don't think he can do it by fiat.

    November 12, 2013 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  4. just saying

    obama will never do it. obamacare was deliberately designed to get rid of peoples' healthcare plans and replace them with higher cost plans meant to subsidize the healthcare of others. if they keep their low cost plans, then the costs of the exchange plans will sky rocket even higher than they already are. of course the democrats answer will be to throw more taxpayer dollars at the problem, thus ballooning the cost of obamacare to 4-5 times its cost estimate. can you say massive debt and deficit?

    face it america. obama and the democrats lied to everybodyu and screwed all of us. the solution comes in november 2014 when we can remove all of these lying democrats from office. remember, they all have to go in order to have a veto proff republican majority in order to get rid of the obamacare disease that threatens us all.

    November 12, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  5. Lynda/Minnesota

    Indeed he should. I wonder though ... will Congress get behind him and make the legal adjustments?

    November 12, 2013 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  6. tiz

    Obama is complete joke of a president. Worst leader that I can remember in that office..... just a bad president, you can't say anything more...

    November 12, 2013 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  7. Evergreen

    Once the policies were canceled and the policyholder now knows that the policy really did not cover much, do they really want the policy back?

    November 12, 2013 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  8. freedom

    The Clintons have NO ROOM to talk about honoring commitments. please....

    November 12, 2013 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  9. bill

    honor and obama? there is no such thing.

    November 12, 2013 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  10. wakeup

    Never really loved Clinton – but that really makes sense !

    November 12, 2013 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  11. John

    The only fix that is needed is the impeachment of Obama.

    November 12, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  12. ImvotingforHillary

    Funny how know nothings are saying he is the worst president. At least he TRIED to help people. What would you rather him do? Lie about a country and send thousands of our Soldiers to die and get wounded in a war based on his lies?

    November 12, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  13. CryBabies

    Hillary must be ready to come out of the starting blocks. President Clinton is right on this....but that is only half of why he is speaking out. The other half has to do with his "missing in action" wife.

    November 12, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  14. srcactus

    Nothing new here. Liberals, (Democrats) are great in the social feel good arena and just awful with the money of other people or financial stewardship.

    November 12, 2013 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  15. Tom Wolf

    Obama know's he can't allow people to keep their coverage. He knew this in 2010. At my job our premiums for "close to" the same plan we had last year... makes our premiums jump 1120%. That's not a typo 1,120% increase in premiums. The insurance companies are doing this because they stand to lose a lot of money because of Obamacare and they need to make it up somewhere else. IF Obama "forces" the insurance companies to allow people to keep their plans... the Insurance "Death Spiral" will happen much faster than it's predicted. (The Death Spiral scenario is happening already). So there's NO chance that Obama will fix his lie. He sold the plan on a lie... just like a shady used car salesman.

    November 12, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    Why should he keep his promise? He has absolutely no incentive to. The individuals who support him would be behind him regardless of what he does. There needs to be a necessary IQ level to be enfranchised.

    November 12, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  17. Pppa

    Ahh...the opening salvos of Hillary's 2016 campaign (got to achieve adequate, centrist separation from the current administration!)...

    November 12, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  18. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    If people want their old, crappy health insurance policies back, by all means, let them keep it. If substandard, unaffordable insurance is what they want, by all means, let them have it. Idiots!

    November 12, 2013 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  19. newshound

    First of all, I don't think it is even possible to give those people their plans back. They are gone. But even if he could, 0bama will not do it. He wants those on the lowest rung of the economic ladder to get free healthcare, and he wants the middle class to pay for it. That is justice, in his mind.

    November 12, 2013 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  20. J Russ

    The REAL Truth.....I believe that there is a quite extensive list of proposals by Republicans to affect health care.....and health insurance (two completely different items) If they're anything you or I can agree with is another question but to say there's no ideas except for the Democrats is just not true. Try the google, you'de be surprised.

    November 12, 2013 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  21. Chooch

    @Rick McDaniel Bull total bull. No President can change the "law" it requires Congress. Have you always been a simple minded sock puppet or is this new?

    November 12, 2013 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  22. Jim

    Wow. How bad is it when you have to get schooled on morals by Bill Clinton!!!

    November 12, 2013 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  23. rs

    Rick McDaniel

    He can not. He already eliminated any possibility of that, by his own alterations of the law.........surpassing the Congress, and making his OWN laws........against our Constitutional process.
    Rick- the Insurance companies dumped those customers, by dumping or changing their policies.
    Now, if you really think that's bad, I suppose the President could dictate to insurance companies that they must keep the policies and customers they don't like.... but hey, wouldn't that be "socialism"! Gasp!

    November 12, 2013 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  24. Trent

    Obama outright lied to everyone. I was mad at the republicans for trying to stop Obama care but now I'm happy that they knew something wasn't right. I'm 24 , always had insurance and my premiums just raised considerably. That's what I know to be true. Everything else regarding Obama care seems like a blur of lies and broken promises.

    November 12, 2013 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  25. Mary

    I agree with 'just saying about the cost issue. My policy was cancelled and the alternatives with the same benefits have a far higher deductible - to the tune of an extra $6400 per year out of my pocket. No improved benefits - just more cost to me. This is an indirect tax on the middle class, dressed up as somehow making me better off. The idea that only substandard plans are being eliminated is absolutely not true - my new and old benefits are the same, just more expensive now. And, I still cannot get into the exchange to even look up alternatives outside of my current insurer - not much hope that will happen by my cancellation deadline of 12/15/13 . . .

    November 12, 2013 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
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