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. sally

    By all means, let the people keep their lousy plans which can be cancelled when really needed along with other very negative aspects rather than have them look into affordable alternatives at the exchanges which offer real insurance!

    November 12, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  2. The REAL Truth...

    @srcactus – Nothing new here. Liberals, (Democrats) are great in the social feel good arena and just awful with the money of other people or financial stewardship.
    If only that were true.. when in fact it is just the opposite. The party of fiscal responsibility, has actually never been that.. unless it's in cutting entitlement programs and raiding their surpluses to finance another war or two.. or kick the cost down the the road as they did with Afghanistan and Iraq.
    But don't take my word for it.. do a little research and you'll figure out that the Dems have been the more fiscally responsible over time than the GOP, pulling them out of the last three depression/recessions that we've had.. even over all the roadblocks the Obstructionist Party has thrown up in the last 5 yrs.

    November 12, 2013 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  3. Rudy NYC

    Dr. Cole wrote on page 5:

    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.
    That's pretty much correct. You left out the parts about how the income ceilings for Medicare would be significantly raised, almost to the point where anyone below a certain income qualifies for a single payer health care. It would be prohibitively expensive, and the Republicans had never announced a plan on how to provide funding for it. It was rolled out in June 2009 by Boehner.

    The Tea Party would eviscerate it in today's political climate, which is why Republicans no longer offer any plan of their own. They don't want to be called flip-floppers, and so they offer nothing as an alternative.

    November 12, 2013 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  4. Chris

    What is it with all of these liberals? We have the freedom to choose and how Obama/Clinton can sit it and trivialize our freedoms to buy or not buy, to choose or not choose, to have or not have is beyond me! Obama and the Democrats are trying really hard to socialize everything about the low to middle income people in the U.S., and we're not going to accept it. Go away Obama, resign now while the gittin' is good. Hillary, stay your lying lips out of politics and fess up to your guilt in the death of a U.S. Ambassador.

    November 12, 2013 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  5. VEW2012

    Just let the people lose those plans that do not provide adequate coverage. There are policies in the exchange that do provide much better and more secure coverage. It is a known fact that the majority of bankruptcies in this country are health calamity related, and for most of those people who faced bankruptcy it is also known they had insurance policies whose coverage did not provide security. The sole reason these plans are being dropped is they do not do the job of providing good coverage.

    November 12, 2013 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  6. Tony

    Ed, when catastrophe happens, the canceled policies would be worthless. The canceled policies were cheap because insurance companies would not need to pay much in benefits, and they would cut you loose immediately. If insurance companies had to pay real benefits, they would need higher premiums than they were getting with these policies.

    November 12, 2013 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  7. Jonathon Powelly

    If Obama wants something the Republicans will automatically say no.

    November 12, 2013 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  8. JacksonAction

    Hillary is going to play the victim in all this during 2016? It's all Obama's fault.

    November 12, 2013 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  9. Mark Smith

    This is why you can't trust white people! Any chance to steal your land, your methods and stab you in the back will not be passed up.

    November 12, 2013 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  10. Mel

    It appears that all of the mindless robots who unconditionally support Obama must have left town.

    November 12, 2013 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  11. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote on page 5:

    Ah yes... pay for a quintupling of the Medicare rolls by doubling the funding. That there is called liberal math.
    Let's decrease the annual budget deficit by cutting taxes and decreasing our revenue. That there is called voodoo economics.

    November 12, 2013 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  12. Moores rule

    Every President have things that may fail on them, but a mistake is only a mistake if you don't learn from it. It's not like he wrote the whole thing up himself and set it up plus worked on it plus worked on the Internet plus he wasn't the only mind behind this is all, for the record is better to look at the things he did fix, America is not in a war where his friends make money off our great soldiers, he should let people keep their own care if they want, lets not pick sides but lets pick America.

    November 12, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  13. edog355

    The horse is already out of the barn. There is no way Obama can "unravel" the problem and now let people keep their insurance. Too many people have already been dropped and insurance companies have long since re-worked their plans so that the old plans are no longer available.

    November 12, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  14. Chris

    Ooh. He's going to "task his team". There's a real leader at work, ladies and gentleman.

    November 12, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  15. ME

    I adore Bill Clinton..He is a brilliant Politician and a Good Man!!

    November 12, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  16. Fair is Fair


    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.
    Yes indeed. Used to be that "health insurance" was really meant to cover hospital expenses. Hell, even original Medicare (Part A) was hospital insurance. Along comes comprehensive policies and Medicare Part B and wa-bang, premiums skyrocket.

    November 12, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  17. bspurloc

    and palin isnt qualified to talk let alone be vp.

    November 12, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  18. Frank

    Had he kept his promise, Obamacare wouldn't have had a chance AT ALL of passing with ANY support from ANYBODY! Obama knew he would have to "DEFRAUD" America to get what "HE" wanted.

    November 12, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  19. ME

    Yep..Yankee Doodle Dandelion.....Hilary has my vote.....

    Southern Fried Escargot..

    November 12, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  20. VEW2012

    @Rudy NYC ....get over the paying for birth control, or delivery. Women do not have prostates, they as a rule are not as likely to be involved in acts of violence, or gun violence ....i.e. as men; men have more injuries from attempting hair-brained stunts as women, they have a higher rate of heart disease and skin cancer than women. Besides how can anyone know what coverage they will need before the fact?

    November 12, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  21. To Get Over it

    Get Over it said "It's settled law that has been upheld by the Supreme Court."

    Funny, so isn't the 2nd Amendment, yet many of you want to keep changing that... PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH – HYPOCRITE!

    November 12, 2013 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  22. danicalifornia

    To Powerfail..regarding the country electing a college professor. I believe he was a part-time adjunct professor, not a full time tenure professor.

    As for Bill, he is the most power hungry person and ex-president ever. Since he can't get back in to the WH, he and his wife figured she could be the next president. I just want Bill and Hillary to go away. Oh, BTW, she was one of the worst Secretary of State in such a long time. "What difference does it make" that 4 Americans died and our embassy was attacked. Having an embassy attacked is an attack on our nation.

    November 12, 2013 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  23. nonyabidnes2

    How about we rescind the law and then make a new one? Come on people, this isn't difficult!

    November 12, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  24. John Smith

    "When ever government gets involved in any business the price always goes up."
    What a pile of horse shit! In Canada we had a number of monopolies run by Crown Corporations (Government) where all profits go back to the corporation or shareholders (the people) Then because of our proximity to the US those corporations were sold off to the private sector because they are oh so more efficient and they are at taking the money from people. Our rates have gone up 4 times what they were factoring in inflation. Yes that is so much better for the people? There is nothing wrong with private sector companies as long as they are not in a monopolistic position which is the case with Utility companies etc. and putting more pigs at the trough does not solve that. Health care should be run as a Crown Corporation unitizing the private sector to provide the services and should be available to all. Insurance companies are just pigs at the trough.

    November 12, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  25. tony

    "Reagan Care" emptied the menta health institutions onto the streets. And just left them there.

    "Reagan Care" ignored the Thalidomide lesson and let the Drug Companies do their own swelf inteeated testing. . .

    "Reagan Care" has given us one of the world's mediocre heath care systems, at more than double the price of other civilized and wealthy nations, together with the extra costs of our parasitic heath insurance companies, making the costs of health coverage beyond the reach of about half of the nation.

    Obamacare without the insurance "indusrty" would be, as successful and wanted as much Social Security. It's the private parts that are hurting it and us.

    November 12, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
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