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. John Rosen

    Latest spin is that Obama agrees with Clinton. Just goes to show the people Obama will say anything to further his interest.

    His statement is similar to the guy convicted of a crime and tells the judge he is sorry. What he really means is that he is sorry that he got caught.

    November 12, 2013 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  2. paofpa

    A number had Health Insurance cut. How many just had their number of selections just cut? How many were just informed they had to make a new selection even if it was the same? How many are going thru Companies or Brokers vs. on-line? How many are just waiting for zero hour? You still need to look a participation rate next December vs. this December. You still need to look at Emergency Rooms vs. Doctors offices. The numbers here really do not mean anything. People still run red lights.

    November 12, 2013 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  3. Frank in Pensacola

    glad to see we have distortions in the record corrected by a reliable, trusted source, like Sarah Palin.

    November 12, 2013 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  4. mike

    Really? What Obama did was apologize? I guess just like everything else the liberals do, apologies are now short cuts to something else.

    November 12, 2013 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  5. Kathleen

    No amount of attempted distancing will seperate Hillary from Barack.

    November 12, 2013 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  6. Michelle D.

    I was one of the many who got a policy cancellation letter. In basic terms Anthem Blue Cross said that they were cancelling my current policy and moving me into another that was identical but cost $ 225.oo more per month.
    I think it is a bit unfair for the President to take all the heat when the insurance companies are manipulating the law and the media is not doing its due diligence in thoroughly investigating the changes in the policies.
    It's not a perfect system, but at least a start was made for change – and that is far better than the empty rhetoric.

    November 12, 2013 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  7. Sick of it

    Is this where the Clintons' begin to separate Hilary from the Obama's in prep for 2016?

    November 12, 2013 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  8. Fair is Fair

    Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote on page 5:

    Ah yes... pay for a quintupling of the Medicare rolls by doubling the funding. That there is called liberal math.
    Let's decrease the annual budget deficit by cutting taxes and decreasing our revenue. That there is called voodoo economics.
    That there is the "bait and switch" you always piss and moan about.

    "Nice try, but you got yourself."

    November 12, 2013 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  9. mdaneker

    I voted for and defended Clinton... but I walk away on this. He's posturing to give his wife talking points in 2015. Obama should stand up and say "I promised if you where happy with your insurance and you wanted to keep it, not if you have a falls-short plan that just drains money but doesn't give back. If all 50 states would have accepted the Medicaid expansion then everyone could be covered until they find a new plan they can afford or stay on medicaid which is less expensive and better coverage that whatever they lost. No matter what, insurance must meet the standard of the law" and have done with it.

    November 12, 2013 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  10. Evelyn Connaway

    Bill Clinton and all the other peoples making remarks about peoples healthcare policies being cancelled, should really know, those cancellations or non-renewable policies notices they are getting: President Obama spoke what should have been a truthful fact – But even he did not realize the all the insurance companies found this to be a good accuse to get rid of all the policies of clients that they no longer or did not want to keep.

    November 12, 2013 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  11. Screamin Scott

    Obama apologizing doesn't cut the mustard....More people are adversely affected by this law than there are those whom it helps...

    November 12, 2013 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  12. ed dugan

    There is no way on God's earth that you can marry health insurance efforts backed by the government and those coming from the private sector. Health insurance companies are nothing more than health insurance casinos where the house always wins. If we are ever going to get decent, affordable health insurance in the US it certainly won't come from the casinos. They entire system is so corrupt now only a total takedown will cure it. Government backed health insurance is the ONLY answer and sooner or later we will take a look at Great Britain and Canada and realize that.

    November 12, 2013 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  13. jimmie

    "NIEVE"? Learn to spell, kid.

    November 12, 2013 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  14. jenn, philadelphia

    First, there's nothing "misleading" about a statement you know to be false when you say it. It's called a "lie". Second, to dismiss the people who are losing their coverage's concerns with "they can find something better on the exchange to replace their bad plan" is insulting. I imagine they did their research and found a plan that worked for them and their family. To be so dismissive of them is to imply the government knows best and they should just accept it.

    November 12, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  15. Hogarth

    It should not be difficult to restore the policies that have been cancelled, with the assurance that no more such policies will be written. There are several instances like this where grandfather clauses would have made the pill less bitter to swallow.

    November 12, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  16. Peter

    Jimmie wrote: "Shows how NIEVE Clinton is – Obama is a pathological liar from day one.
    Americans VOTED for Obama, however, so NOW LIVE WITH IT !"

    First of all, son, it is spelled "naive".

    Secondly: By your spelling, you may be very young and this may be your first presidency.

    Let me assure you as one who has lived through 13 different Presidents, that Obama is no more or no less a liar than the other 12.

    Find me one President in the last 100 years that didn't tell some whoppers.

    I am not defending Obama or any of the other Presidents.

    I'm just saying that lies and the White House have gone hand in hand for a long, long time.

    November 12, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  17. MCFx

    Should be titled...

    "Clinton to Obama, Let The Adults Take It From Here"

    November 12, 2013 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  18. Crashman

    So why should we allow people to keep inferior plans that will require others to cover the costs of services not covered under them? I thought that was the whole idea of the ACA - to reduce healthcare costs by making sure that everyone had adequate coverage.

    And please stop asking Sarah Palin for her opinion on anything. We really REALLY don't care.

    November 12, 2013 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  19. wm Scot

    Well Jimmie apparently we know how you voted ! The country needed a national health care program and the democrats ,unfortunate, used the Heritage Foundation template for it and it did not work. Now we can finally go after a single payer system that most of the country would want !

    November 12, 2013 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  20. Mary Perry

    In regards to people being able to keep their insurance plans - I was in the work field until 2009. I am now retired. During the years I worked, it seemed that the insurance companies changed and/or dropped plans every year. They are doing nothing differently now. It has just been blown up because of the ACA. Insurance companies changed the plans and went up on the cost of plans every year. I was on both ends of this – working in the area where the company was offering insurance to the employees and as an employee accepting the insurance. The dropping of plans isn't just because of the Affordable Care Act. The insurance companies and the Anti-ACA just want people to think this.

    November 12, 2013 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  21. Bob

    tony, "Or die quickly under the repub plan"

    Sorry Tony, the repub plan did not cancel 3.8 million insurance policys, the Obama/Pelosi plan did, it was a big effing deal !

    November 12, 2013 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  22. Fact

    Obamacare should look into building more public hospitals, where people get health services, without PRIVATE insurance, at a reasonable price

    Health care system is totally hijacked by these private organizations (Hospitals, Health Insurance company and pharmaceuticals) from people and demanding huge ransom to participate. Private Hospitals and pharmaceuticals are charging 10 to 20 times more on innocent people with no (private) insurance.

    November 12, 2013 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  23. Stop obamacare

    If you want to stop obamacare don't enroll and convince as many people as you can not to enroll as well. I am a college student and just on my campus alone I have convinced at least 60 of my friends and family to sign a pledge not to enroll in obamacare and to convince others not to enroll too. If young people like myself refuse to sign up they will have no funds to support obamacare. I plan to coordinate with other college campuses around the country to create similar pledges not to sign up for obamacare. If you really want to stop obamacare, do what I am doing, use social media,organize meetings, go door to door if you have to!

    November 12, 2013 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  24. Clarke

    I think he should make good on his promise. People should be able to keep what they have.

    November 12, 2013 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  25. Dennis in Los Angeles

    When is someone going to ask Hillary about what she thinks of the Obamacare disaster? Either she supports Obama and his minions or creates a rift between the believers and those who agree with the Republicans and Tea Partiers that Obamacare needs to be repealed.

    November 12, 2013 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
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