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. bill

    It's a law he can not do it with out a vote ... Or is he above the law ????

    November 12, 2013 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  2. Reading Warrior

    Old White Conservative [straight] male. If you don't want to be told what to do, please sign a petition to repeal Reagan's Emergency Room stabilization Act. Then, when you rugged individualists are turned away by emergency rooms we Socialists won't have to pay. Apparently, conservatives only believe in personal responsibility for others.

    November 12, 2013 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  3. Matthew

    A President who was impeached giving advice to a President who should be impeached.

    November 12, 2013 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  4. justInTime

    Even though I believe government-managed health care of any kind will be disastrous, I have no quarrels with people who support Obamacare on moral or empathetic reasons. However, anyone who thinks the quality of care will increase and the costs will decrease under this law is absolutely deluding themselves. You can't have more for less! That's not how economics works! Health care costs and taxes will rise to cover more people! It can't survive without doing that. What I suspect, based on a long history of incompetence, mismanagement, and redistribution, is that we'll get less for more with our care.

    November 12, 2013 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  5. Thomas

    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.


    Dont be putting Michele Bachmann down , she is one of the smartest politicians in the republican party next to Louie Gohmert.

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

    Yea Obama keep your words,

    November 12, 2013 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  7. JHO


    NO they shouldn't be able to keep these policies because they changed AFTER the law was enacted. You should be mad at the insurance ocmpanies, not the president. They are playing with the policies on purpose to maximize their profits

    Bottom line... if you have acrappy insurance policy than you are still being a dead beat. If you get sick or have to go to the hospital... your plan won't cover you so you become a leech on the rest of society. That's the main thing this law is trying to accomplish.

    It's called personal responsibility. Take care of your own stuff and do it right. It's not Obama's fault you bought a worthless policy
    I am 59 years old, paid my way through college and started my own business. I am also a cancer survivor and was perfectly happy with my 'crappy' policy. I now have lost my current insurance and am forced to pay more for less coverage. You still calling me a leach? A deadbeat? Take responsibility for myself? Screw you.

    November 12, 2013 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  8. Gary D

    When the people who want their old insurance company back, what happens when they need some procedure that is not covered in their old plans? Do they pay out of pocket for services the old plan did not cover? Obama is just trying to make surethey get covered for everything. 90% of the people wanting better insurance have no idea what their policy covers. Insurance pedlers are the only people who know how to read a policy.

    November 12, 2013 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  9. just saying

    i would not support the changing of obamacare one iota. as a matter of fact, republicnas should be proposing laws that require obama to implement all of the obamacare parts he has unilaterally and illegal changed. pass laws that remove all of the exeptions that have been granted. it is vitally important that the entire country experience the full and devastating affect of obamacare and what the democrats have inflicted on the entire country. feel the pain, endure the suffering, pay theastronomical costs, feel the frustration of losing your doctor, learn, learn, learn that democrats lie. then vote them all out in 2014 & 2016. that is your chance to school them in return.

    November 12, 2013 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  10. SeeThruIt2

    Bill Clinton was for the ACA law before he was against it. It sounds like he's been taking obfuscation lessons from Kerry.

    November 12, 2013 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  11. luke,az

    President Obama should let them have their junk health plans, they'll find out that their wasting money. Let the marketplace sort out the best health plans. People will find out eventually that ObamaCARE is the most cost effective way to go. President Obama took a good idea from the Republicans( Romneycare), who were going to implement it nationwide and adapted it to a national populace. Now the Republicans are upset that President Obama took their idea. President Obama is a natural born leader ! Good job Mr. President.

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

    Can someone explain how this would work, if it was just the insurance company that cancelled the plan due to not being profitable?

    They going to force the insurance company to reopen that plan?

    November 12, 2013 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  13. Drake

    It will get a Democrat while the Rebublicans search for Obama's birth certificate.
    Not happy with the lack of leadership by Obama but he looks stellar next to any loser Republican.

    November 12, 2013 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  14. RC

    I wonder if O will listen to Slick Willy even if they do dis-like one another.

    November 12, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  15. Ed T Duck

    I thought former presidents are supposed to keep their mouths shut. He's obviously setting the stage for Hillary's 2016 run.

    November 12, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  16. Matt

    Wow, I actually agree with Bill Clinton about something? (that Obama should honor his pledge even if the law has to change).

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

    What's wrong with simply setting things up so that a medical bill goes straight to the Federal government? Period. That's the way they do it in the military. No health plans. No false promises. Pure and simple socialized medicine. If the government has a problem with the fee, then that is between the government and the doctor. The people should have nothing to do with that. Don't penalize people seeking necessary and lifesaving care.

    November 12, 2013 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  18. Know Your Subject

    Ken in MO – " And wouldnt you know the person causing the debacle is a Republican (Sebelius)."

    Good job, Ken. Kathleen Sebelius has been a Democrat throughout her political career, but not that she is an embarrassment, just throw her under the bus and lie about her being a Republican.

    November 12, 2013 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  19. Greg C.

    Lipstick on a Arkansas terms...

    November 12, 2013 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  20. Bob

    I wish Democrats would stop using Canada as an example of a working system to emulate. First off, on many counts our system is very problematic. I Had to wait 4 months for surgery I'd have gotten in a week in the US.

    Also because we are close to the US, some of us can access US private care and now there are more private options in Canada as well and that helps things out a lot.

    But most importantly, our system does not resemble ObamaCare in any way. Ours is not a national system it is handled by each Province individually. What we have is closer to what Romney set up actually and it is in no way free. Only the very poor don't pay a monthly medical insurance fee though most don't see it because it is handled by our employers. It is very reasonable though and yes, if you are young or are injured the system works well. Mental health care and waiting lists for diagnostics and many surgeries are intolerable though. What they deem as "non-essential" care sometimes is ridiculous and really shows why having someone between you and your doctor is a terrible idea (and that applies to HMO's too)

    November 12, 2013 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  21. Steve Wolff

    Greg, you are correct in that it's the law. Laws get changed and even abolished if "we the people" demand such. If you don't believe this can happen read our history.
    That, and your answer, are lacking.

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

    I have been watching the liberal democrats call their political opponents (tea party) every name in the book while defending the Obama lie. In the end, it was those tea party people who were right about Obamacare. They were saying that Obama was lying and the libs said that the tea party was crazy and extreme for opposing this disaster. We say the true believing libs use demeaning names like tea baggers and worse by the low information voters because they wanted to believe Obama's lies. Now we are able to see that the libs used every lie, trick and fraud to win elections and pass Obamacare in the face of a majority of Americans opposition. Those tea party people were right all along. Do you think that the extreme libbies will ever apologize for being wrong by attacking the tea party? Do you think that the extreme libbies will ever recognize that they were used and abused by Obama to promote his lies?

    November 12, 2013 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  23. John Hoe

    I don't t see this happening. ACA was designed to be the LOWEST threshold for heathcare with more coverage.

    If they allow plans unrestricted they would use them to TANK ACA's system.


    Health A Plan – pre-ACA more expensive with less coverage requirements

    ACA aka Obamacare – first availability cheaper more coverage

    Two Years AFTER ACA:

    Health A Plan – changed to compete against ACA now less expensive with less coverage requirements.

    Now ACA people will complaint because they are REQUIRED by law and there is more affordable heathcare non-ACA now. Calling for more law chanages to reverse course. Bait and switch healthcare tactics used. 5 Years later again prices go through the rough and ACA is dead never to return.

    If they where to offer present plans they would have to impose so many restrictions against changes. That the plan policy would be altered anyways!

    November 12, 2013 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  24. michiganandy

    Having helped my techo-challenged Mother-In-Law negotiate and finally get enrolled via the ACA website, any thought of wanting to keep her existing plan went out the window when she saw the options available to her. Obama's biggest failure in this is a systemic one; assuming private firms can do a better job, in this case, developing the website. Granted, while a 'bidding' process supposedly occured, seems from what I have read there was really only one bid ever considered, so I want to know how that happened. Then again, there's the govt non-bids going to Haliburton for 'development' work in Iraq that has this lingering question of some $6 billion in taxpayer money that went to Haliburton and is still, to this day, unaccounted for, seems that takes precedent in trying to figure out. So in the end, the reaction from the right over Obamacare, inconsistent in terms of principles when you consider the fiscal rape this country endured under Bush-Cheney as a result of the Iraq War. I can only conclude those wanting to see fellow Americans have better options and access to health insurance even if well off folks like myself need to pay a little more are fighting nothing more than the Scared White Folks Freak Out resulting from a black man becoming president. So how do you argue with crazy?

    November 12, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  25. dan

    Do you have to keep a promise if your fingers were crossed and you didn't really mean it to begin with?

    November 12, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
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