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. Dan I

    So Clinton thinks people should continue to have health insurance that is less than useless? These people are paying money for something that provides basically nothing. Try to use one of these plans and you'll quickly find they effectively cover NOTHING.

    November 12, 2013 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  2. Donna

    If Hillary Clinton will not support the repeal of Obamacare, she will lose the election. That is assuming it isn't already repealed in 2015 after the Republicans take super majorities in the House and Senate to override Obama's veto power. Instead of Obamacare being a poison pill to our healthcare system, it will turn out being a poison pill for the Democrat Party.

    November 12, 2013 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  3. onevoice

    Any and every law that Obama tries to change, John Boener and his cohorts will make sure the law is not passed.
    The enrollment plan for most insurance cut-off is the end of November. Obama would also have to change the cut off time as well as get a new law in place in 2013. Now what's the realistic possibility of that? If Obama advisors did not advise him of all the impacts of the healthcare changes– do you really think Obama can change laws, Mr Clinton? Obama does not have advisors working for him that want him to succeed, and he needs to do some house-cleaning, real quick..... This President gets blamed for everything that goes wrong in the country– even though there are some areas that must be voted on...

    November 12, 2013 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  4. Robert Gemerek

    I personally think they need to completely rebuild the entire health insurance industry. From ridiculous waits at every emergency room, to hospitals filled with patients.....ridiculous waiting room times for drs.....insane fees and co-pays, ridiculously complicated insurance plans with intentionally sophisticated wording and terms so most people won't understand credit is ruined for life due to medical bills when I didn't have insurance. Then I had a daughter and I find out my health insurance won't cover the full amount of the theres I believe 9 grand more I owe. ...good thing I pay 300 bux a month on healthcare : / This country is just hopeless......france and Canada have healthcare figured out very well, what the hell is wrong with us?

    November 12, 2013 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  5. lionhart

    To all those saying this should have been passed with support from Republicans need to realize this is the least productive House of Rep in history. If it doesn't involve taking away someones right to vote or have an abortion they are not voting for it. Republicans were voting against bills they sponsored once they found out the president liked it.

    November 12, 2013 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  6. Ken in MO

    Listen, Bush Jr. is by FAR the worst President in history. The only thing President Obama is guiltly of is Presenting While Black (PWB). He did not lie but he is loosing the public relations battle over healthcare. And wouldnt you know the person causing the debacle is a Republican (Sebelius).

    The Republican party is dying a horrible death..and when people realize that they are MUCH better off with Obamacare they will hold the Do-Nothing for the regular people Republicans accountable. The Koch brothers cant save you all!!

    November 12, 2013 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  7. Wade

    I cannot believe the LIBERAL biased CNN actually printed this story even if of course they placed it here in the Political section so few would see it or comment on it.

    November 12, 2013 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  8. misterbilll

    Next year, when the employee insurance coverage is dropped in the millions, you will see panic, you will see anger, and I think you will see violence in the streets. OWEbamacare is a personal attack on the American people by their government. Its all very sad.

    November 12, 2013 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  9. Bo

    This thing is going to be repealed and the repeal will be led by endangered Democrats. When Clinton gets off the bandwagon, this thing is in serious trouble. Historians will rate Obama just above James Buchanan and below Herbert Hoover.

    November 12, 2013 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  10. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    Each area of the country has different options available, based off participating hospitals, Dr'.s, etc. Educate yourself on what's really happening instead of trumpeting the party line & recycling media trash.
    I'm a medical biller moron. I know this law and insurance policies inside & out. I'm sure your policy sucked because the insurance company dropped you from it rather than improving the plan because it didn't meet the minimum value standard. Please save me your "worst President ever" cheap shots. We have tom i. and other morons up here for that.

    November 12, 2013 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  11. kish

    Finally someone said properly to President Obama which is very important,because no body likes to hear "sorry" anymore.
    Thank You President Clinton

    November 12, 2013 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  12. Big Al

    Because we already have a system for persons 65-years-old and older, called Medicare; why not change Medicare as follows:

    1) each year, starting 1 June 2014, lower the age of enrollment in Medicare by five years. Also, included in this new Medicare coverage would be those below the age of 18. This means, all persons 60-years-old and older and below the age of 18, will be covered by Medicare starting June 1, 2014. Apply this policy every 2 years:
    2016: All persons 55-years and older will be covered by Medicare.
    2018: All persons 50-years and older will be covered by Medicare.
    2020: All persons 45-years and older will be covered by Medicare.
    2022: All persons 40-years and older will be covered by Medicare.
    2024: All persons 35-years and older will be covered by Medicare.
    2026: All persons 30-years and older will be covered by Medicare.
    2028: All persons 25-years and older will be covered by Medicare.
    2030: All persons 20-years and older will be covered by Medicare.
    2032: All persons 18-years and older will be covered by Medicare.
    2) Eliminate the current Medicare requirement that one must work at least 10 years in Medicare-covered employment.

    How will we pay for this expansion of Medicare? Increase the current Medicare deduction/tax by 1.5 percent.

    November 12, 2013 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  13. gager

    When ever government gets involved in any business the price always goes up. Things always change for the worse. Then they try to make laws that benefit everyone but they can't so they fiddle with laws for years and we finally settle for what we have....not good.

    November 12, 2013 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  14. Not Applicable

    I' sorry, but "worst president" how about Bush Jr, "how did you get that black eye?" Um "i fell off the couch" talk about incompitent.

    November 12, 2013 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  15. Solitairedog

    Clinton is asking the impossible. If insurance companies decided to abandon a plan, it's gone. You can't legislate it back. Minimum requirements are a good idea and President Clinton would do well to refocus his attention on matters with which he is familiar.

    November 12, 2013 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  16. Joe

    The American Healthcare is a 'mess' because liberals say it is. Newsflash, there is inequity in all parts of the world.
    Do you realize even in single-payer healthcare system there remains a wide-divide as the wealthy pay their 'high end' doctors out of pocket for better services then rendered by the govt? Of course, that would create conflict in the USA as well because the real motivation here isn't just healthcare, it's about wealth re-distribution.

    November 12, 2013 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  17. Jim

    LOL, the Dems...the only way to save their party in the shadows of the ACA apocalypse is to throw the president under the bus....Nice – it's his fault. So I guess no one in the Dem party knew the website had issues prior to launch and no one knew the "you can keep your health plan" line was a deliberate misrepresentation of the facts? In the private sector this operation would be out of business and the officers sued personally for fraud.

    November 12, 2013 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  18. Ron

    Perhaps I am being a simpleton, but why not bring pressure to bear on the CEO's and CFO's of the Insurance Companies? Make them an offer they cannot refuse.

    To wit: "We understand that you are cancelling policies. You have that legal right, of course, be we also have the legal right to Audit your personal finances, Mr. CEO and Mr. CFO. And those of your Board Members and their families as well. Would you like some time to rethink your position?".

    Twisted-arm tactic for sure, but whatever.

    November 12, 2013 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  19. Dr. Cole

    @ Rembrant
    It's funny that you say that Republicans haven't put forth any solutions...yet in fact there was a solution mentioned in the article..Did you read it??? There was also a solution (alternate healthcare bill) that Pelosi and Reid wouldn't allow on the floor of Congress since they wanted to push through the ACA. The alternate bill got rid of lifetime maximums, pre-existing conditions and the ability for an insurance company to cancel plans for a list of reasons. The Republican alternative did not "mandate" coverage, expand the IRS or give fines for those that are not covered. It was a good bill, but it wasn't thought of by the Democratic Congress, so it wasn't allowed any air-time...but then that's how politics rolls. Think about it.

    November 12, 2013 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  20. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    If the President and his advisers find a way to implement changes that would allow people to keep their sub-par insurance then I'm all for it.
    I'm sure those changes would have to be approved by Congress so let's see how cooperative that entity turns out to be in this instance.
    Someone mentioned that the Republicans were finally working on something that would allow this to occur.
    I'm not holding my breath as they have been known to vote against their own idea if they see that the President is for it.

    November 12, 2013 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  21. Lib Labitis

    I love how CNN buried this story ... and all others critical of Obama. Hey, they need to keep the news pages open for important news, like Ben & Jerry's introduction of two new flavors. CNN is the burial ground of journalism.

    November 12, 2013 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  22. Mary

    To Humanit4All, I believe people are not enrolling because they cannot get into the system. I have tried almost every day since it opened, and cannot get past the security questions part to set up an account. I called and was told that this is a system problem - but that means that pretty much nobody can even get in, much less sign up. And only a small percent of the total population even needs to get in - most people have employer-based insurance or Medicare or Medicaid and don't need to get in at all. So the relatively small number of us who are trying cannot get in and I would guess that many who are not as persistent as I am have given up trying.

    November 12, 2013 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  23. MaryM

    The ACA and the ACA web site will be fixed whether the GOP likes it or not

    November 12, 2013 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  24. Fair is Fair

    "How will we pay for this expansion of Medicare? Increase the current Medicare deduction/tax by 1.5 percent."
    Ah yes... pay for a quintupling of the Medicare rolls by doubling the funding. That there is called liberal math.

    November 12, 2013 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  25. Tony C

    It's good that Clinton stepped up. I do think it's a campaign for Hillary. But I think he still misses the problems. Right now the website is being planed for low enrollment. I seriously doubt that is the case. The reason for low enrollment is the difference between "affordable" and "free" healthcare. Young folks have to make a car payment to get healthcare even under ACA. Destitute people won't pay at all. I see the bigger picture is that ACA failed to adequately address the socioeconomic demographic of the target of ACA. Many programs are available for assistance to these folks but many won't take the time to fill out paperwork. Many won't pay anything into the system, And many will take advantage of the system in negative ways. The a large portion of the demographic of those that do not have health insurance also do not have law required car insurance. Or current driver's licenses. Or whatever reason they will not participate in the spirit of the law. Some will and they are. It's sad for these folks that too many will not and will spoil the benefits of ACA. In the mean time, millions will lose their coverages. Tens of millions, like myself, will see increases in deductibles and employee contributions. And these folks have always worked hard and payed into the system. If this isn't compromised fast and effectively the affected people will be voters come next November. The Democrat seats are at stake.

    November 12, 2013 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
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