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. RSW

    Which brings me to a thought I've had for awhile, in reply to Michelle D @ 2:06 pm. Who's investigating the insurance companies? Granted, insurance companies are only looking out for themselves, and will look for any loophole they can to save money and not be screwed, just like anyone else does, but are they manipulating the law and making loopholes where there are none? Don't get me wrong, I think the whole ACA is a big joke and a total ridiculous idea that'll cost us all way more money than it'll save for anyone, but insurance companies are foxes, too.

    November 12, 2013 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  2. Clarke

    Any new program is only as good as the people writing the program and the people doing the input. The doing
    The work failed. No one person is to blame, but everyone involved is to blame.

    November 12, 2013 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  3. oreo

    If he keeps his promise Obamacare fails for sure. Silly neoLiberals, tee-hee.

    November 12, 2013 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  4. Vic of New York

    Why does CNN even bother to quote Sarah Palin? Since when does anyone take this light weight TEA party quack seriously? Maybe if CNN has a column "Quotes from Quaks and Wierdos"....

    November 12, 2013 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  5. Maty

    It's frustrating that most opponents of this plan don't even know what it entails.

    November 12, 2013 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  6. Edwin

    So... do we pass a law requiring private insurance companies to keep their plans, even if the plan is not profitable? I can see no way to keep these old plans without FORCING the insurance companies to keep them, regardless of the needs or desires of the insurance company.

    Personally I think it is a good idea - the plans may be crud, but people who bought crud at least bought something - so they have some sort of insurance. The problem will diminish over time, as they decide to change plans, die of old age, or get a better job with better insurance - so why keep them from their old plans?

    But as I said, this is a matter for private companies. How are we going to get republicans to go along with a law requiring health insurance companies to offer non-profitable plans?

    November 12, 2013 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  7. dnokc

    Bill & Hillary throwing owebama under the bus!
    Et tu, Brute?

    November 12, 2013 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  8. erichx101x

    Over the last ten years we've learned that the president and congress are obsolete. Thank god for Washington Bureaucrats and local government.

    November 12, 2013 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  9. Dean

    "The big lesson is that we're better off with this law than without it," he said.--------Tell that to the people who have had their deductibles raised by thousands of dollars and have seen their copays go from zero % to 40%.

    November 12, 2013 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  10. shaniqua10

    Yea, Clinton telling Obama to keep his promise.
    Like Bill Promised Hillary to be Faithful, Honest and Obey.

    November 12, 2013 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  11. Really?

    That's just it. Obama needs those people to lose their heathcare to force them into Obamacare. Obama knew it was a lie, repeated the lie over and over and now the lie is revealed, he lied about the lie to begin. Obama said I never said if u like your plan u can keep it period" what I said was if u like your plan and it has not change since ACA was signed into law, u can keep it". Now he is saying oh don't worry thats only 5% of the population. ( I guess s c r e w them). Or he says well I'm sorry this is happening but he never apologize for his lies.
    Man if it werent for Bill Clinton, CNN would just keep ignore the catastrohpe of ACA that is going in the country today. Marching orders fr the WH to all liberal press. Shhhh about Obamacare. report on everything else.

    November 12, 2013 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    Clinton is either very smart, or very dumb on this.

    Does he realize, that if Obama allows these people to keep their insurance, that the whole law implodes?
    Clinton is a smart guy. I gotta believe he knows this.

    Also why this exposes Obama to be such a liar. By design, ObamaCare MUST kick these millions of people off their present coverage, so they would have to go to the exchanges to spend more and get less, to compensate for the massive expansion of medicaid, or else – who is going to pay for all these people?

    This is a lie and fraud on a grand scale.
    Impeachment is in order.

    November 12, 2013 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  13. USAF Vet

    It's 2013...does anyone care about a less than one-term Governor from Alaska has to say?

    November 12, 2013 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  14. Dean


    It's frustrating that most opponents of this plan don't even know what it entails.
    Rising premiums, deductibles and copays are the only 3 things we need to know.

    November 12, 2013 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  15. Greg Campbell

    In order to restore their health plans, some serious overhaul would have to take place, and I think the President is purposely dancing around the issue. He can't give these millions of people their health plans back without some large changes

    November 12, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |

    With Bill and other Dems now openly blaming Obama for his lies, they must really be worried about 2014 and 2016. They are soooo worried that they are willing to openly call Obama a liar. This means that it can not be long before Obama's liberal media lap dogs jump ship too. This could turn out to be a real disaster in the making for Obama. Especially if more problems with the entire law start to be realized by the average Joe. Because as much as the Dems and the media have been willing to go along with and support Obama's lies, there comes a point when they can no longer stand by them and expect to retain office/power. Obviously, bill does not want Hillary saddled with the Obamacare mess in 2016. And many Dems running in 2014 don't want to campaign on Obamacare, despite what the idiot running the DNC says.

    Once all the party rats and liberal media begin to jump ship, to save their own hides, Obama is done. Not just a lame duck, but a roasted duck.

    As for Obamcare itself, it is a giant turkey that should be shot and deep fried, prior to Thanksgiving, never to rear its ugly head again. Then the vast majority of Americans will truly have something to be thankful for on Thanksgiving Day.

    November 12, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  17. ryan jerisk

    It's more like, Obama, "shut your trap or stop lying to everybody, make a choice man" !

    November 12, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  18. Angela

    I'm going to stop reading CNN online until your writers stop quoting Sarah Palin. She's no one, and no one but the most ignorant in our country cares what she has to say.

    November 12, 2013 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  19. amy

    So he has "tasked his team" with finding ways to change the law to make it right. That seems to be all he is capable of doing. Worst. leader. ever.

    November 12, 2013 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  20. greg

    Liar Liar – Mr. Obama the Preaching Liar. Worst President in US History. Unpatriotic Debt (at least that what he said to
    Bush in 2008)..........Can't blame Bush no more!!........Maybe your friends Jay-Z and his croonies still can. I'm sure
    they have a tough time paying for your entitlements.....

    November 12, 2013 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |

    Bill Clinton knows the difference between lies that you can get away with versus those that, no matter how embarrassing or harmful to your ego, you must admit and take action to correct. The real question is whether or not Mr. Obama is smart enough to do the same thing, or whether his ego and political agenda will continue to blind him and force him into more and more lies, in an lame effort to try and get out from the harm of the lies he has been telling us all in his effort to peddle this crap law. At this point, given the Chuck Todd interview, I doubt Mr. Obama has the same capacity as Mr. Clinton. According to C Todd, Mr. Obama does not believe he lied, even though it is painfully obvious to all but him. clear case of the Emperor having no clothes.

    Mr. Obama missed a golden opportunity to look bipartisan, while at the same time giving himself time to fix the mess he created, when he refused Repub demands to delay the individual mandate for one year, instead of shutting down the government. He can still do that, albeit with egg on his face, now. But given his tendency toward isolation and refusal to work with others, even in his own party, it is very doubtful that he will want to suffer a little egg on his face, even if it means saving the Dems from major setbacks in 2014 and 2016.

    Someone needs to pull Mr. Obama aside and convince him that the path he is on is one of a legacy of lies and failed promises. That way he will have a personal stake in addressing the problem. In the past, such a conversation would take place with party leaders in the Senate or House. But don't count on H Reid or N Pelosi to get Obama on track,.neither of them have displayed any such leadership capabilities to date. In fact, they openly support the lies at every turn.

    November 12, 2013 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  22. health care sucks in this country

    they probably weren't good policies to start with.

    November 12, 2013 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  23. NotThatStupid

    When are we as a people going to wake up and quit electing idiots and liars to office? We only have ourselves to blame. By popular vote (and barely) he got elected into office for a second term. You knew what he was the first term, yet re-elected him again. I can't blame the President alone. We the public put him back in there with all of the other "followers" of Obama regime machine. If we were stupid enough as a society to put him in there, we are stupid enough to endure the pain and consequences of what follows. I blame the Democrats and other Obama followers for this crisis and mess, but I blame the voting public even more for putting any one of them in office. All I can say to you people is "thanks for putting them into office and screwing up a good thing we had going. I hope you are satisfied because I'm certainly worse off than I was 2 years ago because of them and you".

    November 12, 2013 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  24. yolanda

    Clinton is a leader, Obama is an organizer. Clinton chose to work with Congress (Gingrich), Obama not so much. Clinton accomplished things, Obama not so much. Clinton didn't blame others, he negotiated. Obama not so much.

    November 12, 2013 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |

    And let's nor forget, Obama wants to make the wreck into an even greater disaster by adding 11 million illegals to the mix, by legalizing them under an amnesty plan. Thereby making them eligible to compete, legally, for any and all jobs, get in line for entitlements and drive up the cost of health care and health insurance. And when they all sign up for Obamacare, your premiums and deductibles, along with your taxes (if you pay any) will go up again in order to pay for their coverage and other "entitlements" and welfare handouts they will be standing in line to collect.. Now isn't that special!

    November 12, 2013 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
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