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. anon

    This will be like peeing in the wind when I say this, but, the website problem indicates a larger systemic issue with government creating things like this. The problem is the procurement issue. We have a situation in our government where when something, like a website, is made the most intelligent people in the room are the lawyers. For a good reason they're there, but the downside is slow and often bungled rollouts of some projects. They HAVE to be there to make sure every i is dotted and every t is crossed when it comes to the law, any law for any program or project. I'm not saying it's a good or bad thing, I'm just stating how it is.

    November 12, 2013 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  2. Rudy NYC


    @Dutch-The idiots you refer to are mad because they are paying alot mor money in premiums for plans they really don`t need. You do understand that? You act like they are getting better plans for the same price. They are not.
    I find it most ironic that the right wing is complaining about market forces and greed driven price hikes. The first rule of pricing a new product says to price it as high as you can until demand for it drops off, then you take it back a notch and leave it there.

    November 12, 2013 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  3. Pollster

    Obama and the Democrats are nothing more than old time, scum-sucking snake oil salesmen. Let me rephrase that – – old time, scum-sucking and lying snake oil salemen.

    November 12, 2013 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  4. fallen angel

    Don't believe one word of any politician they are all liars and crooks serving their "RICH MASTERS".

    November 12, 2013 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  5. Get over it

    It's settled law that has been upheld by the Supreme Court.

    November 12, 2013 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  6. unblvble

    Oh Clinton is scared that this ACA would come and bite his wife in the rear for 2016, so he is speaking from both sides of his mouth now

    November 12, 2013 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  7. Han

    Better to spread the cost because we pay for it one way or another.

    November 12, 2013 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  8. Yankee Doodle

    Just trying to get Hillary elected so they can do the same thing.

    November 12, 2013 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    Lets not forget that Mr. Bill went out of his way to get Obama eleceted just so he could sell more books and make more money speaking. The Clinton's could give a hoot, they are all about themselves...

    Thanks Hilary for leaving the world in such a mess. I'm sure those four families whose sons died in Bengazi love you.

    November 12, 2013 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  10. John Hoe

    No, it's the sank or swim life boat.

    If you are to save everyone in the Ocean that is drowning then you would sink your own boat. Note, that these people got in the water by their own will.

    You can only give them the best option and that's it!

    November 12, 2013 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  11. Rudy NYC

    lerianis wrote on page 4:

    Mr. Clinton needs to be quiet on this. Those 'health insurance plans' that are being dropped are being dropped because the companies in question know that they do not meet ACA standards and therefore feel that 'dropping' them is better than expanding them, which they could do easily, or are not health insurance but...... I don't even know what to call them..... faux-health insurance is best, since they cover nothing at all.
    Uh, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but dropping the policies is effectively expanding the policies to conform to ACA standards.

    November 12, 2013 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  12. Han

    Here is a subtext conservatives aren't smart enough to understand...

    Clinton's suggestion looks like it's bashing Obama and giving conservatives what they want, but in reality it's actually giving Obama more government power to control healthcare. Of course, that's a good thing for everyone, but conservatives in no way would support it if they knew what it really is.

    November 12, 2013 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  13. HenryMiller

    “The big lesson is that we’re better off with this law than without it,”

    Oh really? How many of those people whose insurance has been cancelled are going to be economically ruined by that fact? How many are going to die?

    Only a Democrat could call that a good result.

    November 12, 2013 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  14. Kevo

    People need to quit defending Obama on this garbage. "Well their plan changed after the law went into effect." Did Obama mention this? Did he even hint at this? No. he clearly said, "“If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what.”

    No Matter what. I think that is what he said. No matter what. Did he mention anything else. No. So he lied. Nuff said, quit defending this scumbag.

    November 12, 2013 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  15. CitizenJP

    Everyone deserves equal healthcare. Those of us who consume a lot, those who get rich because of our consumption, and those who either choose not to consume or cannot afford to consume but whose health gets affected by the pollution from our consumption.
    – Always a human, mostly a democrat, hardly ever a republican.

    November 12, 2013 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  16. Mary

    Solitairedog, the plans being eliminated do not necessarily have sub-standard coverage - my replacement plan has the exact same benefits, but a HIGHER DEDUCTIBLE, to the tune of $6,400 annually. There is a need to increase the PRICE of the existing plans to subsidize the people who are not paying premiums. This is simply a new way of TAXING the middle class without actually increasing tax rates. It especially hits owner-operated small businesses and otherwise self-employed because we are the ones who purchase our own insurance directly, and don't have an employer-based plan. I am guessing the employer-based plans are also experiencing increased out-of-pocket costs but employees might be buffered by an employer contribution and thus may not be aware of the increases.

    November 12, 2013 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  17. Joe Hates Government

    Obama won't keep any promises he's made, never has, never will. He's an empty suit, and by far the Worst President in the short history of the United States. Impeachment proceedings should have all ready begun for the many impeachable offenses he's committed.

    November 12, 2013 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  18. Jessica McGwin

    Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

    November 12, 2013 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  19. You Can Keep Your Plan If You Want

    Clinton just put a stake through the heart of the monster known as Obamacare.

    November 12, 2013 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  20. BrianH

    This is a direct quote from someone here: "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."

    Seriously??? Hey, fella, what about the $634 MILLION DOLLARS already provided for the "roll out" of the website on Oct 1st? Apparently, three solid years of MASSIVE money wasn't enough for you? Nice way to try and twist reality, fella, nice try.

    November 12, 2013 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  21. Gary

    It is so hard to fathom the incompetence, the administration had months to trouble shoot the concequences of these coverage mandates, engage with the insurance carriers and model what would happen. But is it like nobody ran the numbers and this thing limps out of the gate and falls over in convulsions with the whitehouse telling ever bobby to stand back see if it can get on its legs. Looks like it is time put sick policy down and saddle up another horse. Obama is hiding in his room sucking his thumb while Bill, disillusioned democrats and some republicans will float alternatives. Oh yea, this is the same crowd who is trying to "negotiate" with Iran..................

    November 12, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  22. shorething

    Now it would be just as great if Obama could keep his vow of being the most transparent administration. His administration has been the complete opposite, everything we as citizens hear is leaked information. And why did it take Obama 5 weeks to apologize? Seriously 5 weeks and he wasn't advised at all during this time? Obama needs to start acting like the person he thinks he portrays and not the other way around.

    November 12, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  23. Hnry

    "The big lesson is that we’re better off with this law than without it.”

    It depends on what the meaning of the word "we" is, Mr. President.

    November 12, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  24. jr

    He's correct. That is the right thing to do. Many people chose those plans to fit their needs. I believe it was reported at 5million people now that will have to change plans and more in January. Not what was promised. We shouldn't have to be forced to pay for maternity care, pediatric care, etc if we don't need it.

    November 12, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  25. Greenspam

    What's funny to me is that American people are sheep who are so easily manipulated by politicians from their own party. Both parties just want to spend money (history has proven that again and again). But voters are fooled again and again.

    Is there no objective voter who can actually think anymore?

    November 12, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
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