November 17th, 2013
10:20 AM ET
9 years ago

Clyburn: Obama failed to explain health care promise

Washington (CNN) – The No. 3 House Democrat on Sunday blamed a culture of sound bites for President Barack Obama's reneged promise that Americans would be able to keep their existing health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act.

"And this is a sound bite that the President probably needed to take some more time to explain to the American people," Rep. James Clyburn, D-South Carolina, said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union with Candy Crowley."

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After millions of people received cancellation notices for their health plans, Obama faced considerable pushback over his promise to Americans that the new health care reform would not affect those who are already happy with their insurance policies.

"If you like your health insurance, you can keep it," Obama repeatedly told Americans when selling his signature piece of legislation.

After that turned out not to be the case, Obama on Thursday announced his administration would allow insurance companies to extend those canceled policies for a year.

Clyburn, the House assistant Democratic leader, said Obama relied too heavily on a sound bite-friendly selling point, rather than spelling out that he was only referring to plans in place before the Affordable Care Act became law in 2010 and hadn't changed since.

Fact Check: If you liked your health plan, you can keep your health plan

"One of the things in Washington that I dislike more than anything else is when people say to me, 'If you're explaining it, you're losing it.' I don't like that at all. I really believe the American people are deserving of explanations," he said, also blaming the media for not fully explaining the new legislation.

With recent polls showing the President is considered less trustworthy than in the past, Obama on Thursday said he expects he'll need to regain Americans' faith after the rocky rollout of and his broken promise about existing plans.

Clyburn said he was confident Obama can do so.

"Paradise lost, paradise regained. When you lose something you can find it again," he said. "The President admitted that he expects to be held responsible for regaining the Americans' trust, and I think he will."

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.

soundoff (375 Responses)
  1. John

    tony – you are ridiculous. Most people in a single payor system would love the options available in the US compared to a what they are "stuck" with in the single payor system. You see, in the single payor system, people don't have the choice of a particular procedure or a medication....they are simply told what they can and can't have. I work in the healthcare industry and I have seen/heard firsthand the horror stories of the cancer patient being denied the chemotherapy drug that made her feel better because her provincial government felt it wasn't necessary so they wouldn't cover it. If she wanted the drug outstide the insurance company, it would cost her $5000/month. Or the guy with bilateral knee pain who had to wait 8 months just to get an MRI on ONE knee and ANOTHER 8 months to get the MRI on the other knee. Or the guy with painful varicose veins who inquired about the new, minimally invasive vein stripping that is less painful, and requires only 1 day of downtown and missed work but was told that the government insurance only covered the archaic operative stripping that required 2 weeks off of work and was more painful with greater risk of complications. It's more than just premiums, payments, etc. The most important thing about the US healthcare system is the availability of CHOICE and involvement in your care. People in single payor systems don't question their care because they can't – they have no choice. They can't decide if they have some rare disease to travel to the center with the greatest experience and outcomes managing this disease. Instead they are relegated to their local hospital, local physicians, local experience. If that sounds appealing to you – go for it....move to a country with a single-payor system and pray that you don't fall ill...

    November 18, 2013 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  2. Bull

    So, Mr. Clyburn, did you read the bill?

    November 18, 2013 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  3. skytag

    Sound bites are all politicians use, in part because that's about the attention span of the average American voter.

    The problem here is basically a timeline problem. January 1, 2014 should have been the date when three things happened:

    a) The first policies purchased through the exchanges take effect on January 1, 2014.

    b) Policies that don't meet ACA guidelines could no longer be sold starting January 1, 2014.

    c) People can keep any policies in effect prior to January 1, 2014 under a grandfather provision as long as they are not changed significantly.

    The timeline problem is that for three and a half years now insurers have been able to sell policies that don't meet the ACA's guidelines and don't qualify for the grandfathering provision. Instead of letting people keep any policies in effect prior to January 1, 2014, the cutoff was when the bill took effect in March 2010.

    That was dumb. The bill should never have been written that way. Had it been written as I suggested the only time the ACA would require the cancellation of a policy is if the terms of the policy (other than premium) changed after January 1, 2014.

    November 18, 2013 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  4. jfranklin

    I am not suprised. He has not once backed a promise he has made. He is obviously a president who just wants his way and does not care about the American people.

    November 18, 2013 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  5. Hank

    Obama is the "Sound Bite" President. How can anyone be surprised at this?

    November 18, 2013 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  6. JJ236

    And the slows will continue to vote lib................

    November 18, 2013 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  7. sabawa

    Look, this whole thing smelled badly from the get-go. When you let some guy with no experience at managing anything take the big stage, you get what you get. He never fooled me for a moment.......I sat by uncomfortably waiting for something like this to happen.

    November 18, 2013 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  8. scapegoat345

    Worst POTUS ever!!! EVER!!!

    November 18, 2013 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  9. james

    The soundbite I remember: "I'm going to change the way things work in Washington."

    November 18, 2013 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  10. Dazzy

    From the Obama dictionary : "soundbite" – Bold faced lie.

    November 18, 2013 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  11. D A

    Why is it always about Obama and his credibility? Millions of people had their policies cancelled due to this awful bill that was never read and its still about him. Can we agree he is an incompetent liberal and move on?

    November 18, 2013 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  12. Really?

    Ton"...Having lots of experience of both sides, I don't know anyone on the single payer system who would swap to the US (Reagan-who-cares) "system""
    then why are people coming to the USA for treatment they cannot get fr their "single payer system"? See the the guy coming here for gastric bypass b/c he cannot have it done in UK. See the siamese twins fr Germany that came here to be separated. None of this is available in their countries. The best doctors in the world are here in USA. Thanks to Obamacare they will be just like the "single payer countries", gone!

    November 18, 2013 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  13. Really?

    Tony in STL

    Tony STL-"Our President has the WORST supporting cast I've ever seen! He's done an excellent job, however the people around him have been totally ineffective. You will be fired! Our President doesn't have to worry about that, now does he? How sad. God bless our President and the US!"
    Typical liberal kool aid drinker. Its not Obama's fault its Bush, Republicans, media, Arab Springs, sponteaneous attack by demostrators, few rogue agents in in Cincinnati, Tea party, FBI, CIA, DC and now its the people that Obama himself, hired fault. Obama is responsbile for nothing right? Truly amazing!!!

    November 18, 2013 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  14. The Truth Hurts

    "Sound bytes" – Is that wht they call bald-faced lies in DC these days?

    November 18, 2013 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  15. danita

    The insurance company didn't sucker Obama into anything... This is just Obama's way of attempting to spread the wealth... He's not spreading the wealth as he is attempting to force more people on welfare and gov. controlled lives.. Don't want it... Never wanted bama as president and sure as heck don't want a medicaid insurance.

    November 18, 2013 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  16. Goblin King

    He lied get over it. It's not his first or his last.

    November 18, 2013 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  17. Grim Reaper

    Too many bad moves by the President. Obamacare, Benghazi, Eavesdropping, IRS. Washington needs to go-return State's rights.

    November 18, 2013 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  18. FreeHawk9

    There is no recovery from this inexcusable bald-face lie. Coupled with the amateur roll out of this ridiculous website, I would say this falls neatly into the category of EPIC FAIL! Presidency defined! NEXT!

    November 18, 2013 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  19. Tom

    A politician complains about sound bites? I guess the next thing is complaining about breathing air.

    November 18, 2013 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  20. ru serious

    This guy has always received a free pass. Just watch, the media boosters will work overtime to help shift the blame for this fiasco to the insurance industry.....afraid the saying that we deserve the government we vote for is true. So sad what has happened to this once great country.

    November 18, 2013 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  21. Brenda

    How is the media supposed to explain the Affordable Care Act when folks like Nancy Pelosi didn't bother to read it. They passed a sham of a bill without reading it. And I quote "We Have to Pass the Bill So That You Can Find Out What Is In It" – Nancy Pelosi

    November 18, 2013 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  22. jeff

    its the people that should be fired how stupid can you be you didnt see this coming ?????? most would give up organs as long as they got to truffle off to their under paid, over taxed job and if obama said you can get a tax deduction with obama care and long as you got rifd they would do it

    November 18, 2013 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  23. jenn, philadelphia

    The reason he didn't explain it more clearly is because if he did the law wouldn't have passed. The President, his staff and the Democrat leadership all knew this was going to happen based on their own studies while drafting the law. And they're okay with that because they need all these people to lose their coverage and be forced into the exchanges. It's the only way for the law to succeed.

    November 18, 2013 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  24. nuclear mike

    President Obama is nothing but a "sound bite"!

    November 18, 2013 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  25. MikeMongo

    Seems to me the Democratic leaders are running scared and hanging the President out to dry...Pelosi's performance over the weekend was priceless...she was a primary proponent (and healthcare staockholder), her staff (ie Lobbyists) were the primary authors...but we have to pass it to see what's in it...Pelosi and Reid have to go...

    November 18, 2013 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
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