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. Scott

    The King of the Democrats has spoken!!

    November 12, 2013 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  2. Greg C.

    Obama says, "Bill, can you clean up my mess...Bill says, sure thing ole buddy, it's like putting' lipstick on a pig as we say in Arkansas.."

    November 12, 2013 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  3. Dave

    Nice to see Obama get thrown under the bus by a woman for a change.

    November 12, 2013 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  4. Ed

    The biggest joke is people who continue to contend that the existing policies that are being cancelled were somehow worthless. For many people they were just what they coverage for things they weren't at risk for, and a focus on covering catastrophic expenses for a low price. When you start forcing comprehensive coverage of every medical risk and essentially turn your insurance into a billing mechanism by covering all doctor visits, then the cost runs way up. All the "extra" coverage of Obamacare basically just spreads the risk (and cost) of people with high health costs across a lot of people who don't have high health costs.

    November 12, 2013 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  5. john david

    Please refer to all presidents past or present as President
    His name is president bill Clinton. Tbey earned our respect with election to the office.

    November 12, 2013 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  6. Jimmy

    Obama has posioned the well by passing this strickly partisen ACA law.
    Why would anyone cooperate with him on anything else, he's a true Chicago politican not a leader?
    Obama said he would bring us together, he failed on that because his strident left wing agenda.

    November 12, 2013 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  7. YippieSkippie

    There comes a point when anyone taken in by a con-man gets that "Oh No" moments and realizes he or she as been duped. I just got my "Oh No..." Moment.

    November 12, 2013 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  8. Ralph

    Just more Leftist rhetoric. A 70 year old woman is not "better off" after having to purchase maternity care. The reason we lost our healthcare plans is because the Democrats are intent on using this as a vehicle to continue the strip mining of the middle class.
    A citizen should have the right to make their own decisions and purchase the coverage they want and they can afford. Period. This is another SS plan that will end in massive debt and bankruptcy.

    November 12, 2013 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  9. skyler

    Mr. Pesident,

    Why are you such an idiot? Why give aid to countries that wont an dont help us? Why make me go with your crappy ass health care? You have ruined my future plans for my 5 yeat old son because of this bs. You health care does not allow me my rights to live freely. The fact that someone hasnt shot you yet baffles the hell out of me. You disgust me and your pathetic. The only good you could do for this country is remove yourself from office.

    November 12, 2013 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  10. Hmmmm

    Those that think the cancelled policy's were sub-par. Please Explain why those on Medicare need maternity care? Sorry I just don't get it!!!

    November 12, 2013 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  11. silencedogoodreturns

    and so it begins. Now we see how Hillary will run in 2016...she will NOT be defending the Obama years...

    November 12, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  12. Greg C.

    There's a good reason Arkansans termed the phrase..."Slick Willie"...

    November 12, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  13. tom l

    While that might be the right thing to do (even Clinton is admitting that Obama lied) I find it reprehensible that any "solution" that they might come up with is going to cost taxpayers more money. So, basically Obama makes a promise that is false and then the American public is responsible to pay for it. Unbelievable and yet another reason as to why the ACA is not a good idea and never was.

    November 12, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  14. gary baroni

    repeal and be done

    November 12, 2013 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  15. mike

    Can't do anything to stop insurance companies from dropping a plan. Besides, a lot of too-good-to-be-true plans were subsidized by junk plans they foisted on the dumb that weren't worth the paper they were printed on. Since those crappy plans are illegal now...

    November 12, 2013 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  16. A True Conservative

    Wow – so many in favor of Obamacare are refering to the "white folks". But then, the left is incapable of being racist.....just ask them. It's only conservatives...."the sacred white folks". Hypocrites and too blind to see wouldn't know the truth if it walked up and bit you.

    November 12, 2013 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  17. Duane - St.Pete FLA

    Obama won't do a thing......lied and got it passed and he retires after this term....he could care less....thanks libs!

    November 12, 2013 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  18. Merrill

    The thing is Bill, the Law was DESIGNED for people to lose their plans.
    That's how they get people to sign up for the UNaffordable Healthcare Act.
    The deceit was there in the beginning.

    November 12, 2013 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  19. Tony D

    So basically Bill Clinton is telling Obama don't be the biggest liar in American history. Wise words Bill. Obama is too arrogant to admit he lied and to take your advice. And for his lies and arrogance, the Democrat Party will pay a heavy price in the next two elections.

    November 12, 2013 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  20. SFRich

    What's absent from all the talk about the ACA is how congress failed to appropriate money for the October 1st roll out. The request was to be used for informational outreach and advertising. So instead, money had to be diverted from the budget for the technology behind the website. Now the talk is all about that shortcoming.

    The ACA was created to address a need: out-of-control healthcare costs, individuals unable to purchase healthcare due to preexisting conditions, "junk" healthcare policies, inefficiencies in the system with little oversight, etc., etc. The GOP hates it but has no plan to address the problems the ACA was intended to fix.

    The GOP is against any fixes that would affect their favorite healthcare industry and insurance lobbyists. They put on a good deception campaign to convince people they care about the problems that affect ordinary Americans, but they don't. No surprise, they're against social security! The GOP in congress have no ideas, so they create chaos and stop government. As speaker "Bainer" has stated, their job is to repeal laws, not pass them. The GOP is a morally bankrupt party subservient to the health insurance industry, "the 1%" and the Koch brothers. They are just noise polluting the American media airwaves and bandwidth.

    November 12, 2013 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  21. c-lo


    Indeed he should. I wonder though ... will Congress get behind him and make the legal adjustments?
    No, the Dems in the Senate will not get behind him with this type of proposal–they proved that in October when this was one of the main points the Repubs were trying to get passed.

    November 12, 2013 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  22. KHS

    I am sure Obama would love to change the law so that people can keep their policies, but I am just as sure that the republicans would do everything to prevent it. They don't want Obamacare to succeed.

    November 12, 2013 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  23. Woman In California

    @ Ted
    Very seldom do I agree with EVERYTHING a person writes but you hit the nail on the head with me.
    Thank you for such a rational and thoughtful comment.

    Have a great day.

    November 12, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  24. John Paul

    Great words... from a man whose marriage shows that he knows nothing of keeping promises. It's also easy to say when the extremely expensive ramifications of a policy made in total ignorance surface.

    November 12, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  25. barryinlasvegas

    Obama is damaged goods so now Clinton is throwing him under the bus. Next hit will be, Clinton saying Obamacare should be repealed – not ready for prime time.

    November 12, 2013 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
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