Bill “Secretary of Explainin’ Stuff” Clinton said in an interview broadcast Tuesday that President Barack Obama should fulfill his promise to Americans that “if you like your health care plan, you can keep it” even if it means modifying the law popularly known as “Obamacare.”
Obama made that pledge again and again, both in the run-up to the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and in the 2012 campaign — but it was false. Republicans determined to roll back Obamacare have pounded away at this broken promise, even as thousands of Americans have been receiving word that insurers are scrapping their current policies.
“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 got,” Clinton told the online magazine OZY.
Watch parts 1 and 2 of the exclusive Bill Clinton interview at Ozy.com http://www.ozy.com/c-notes/assessing-the-healthcare-rollout-with-bill-clinton/3639.article
The former president — who riled Obama’s re-election team in June 2012 by praising Mitt Romney’s “sterling business record” — came out on balance as strongly in favor of the health care overhaul.
“The big lesson is that we’re better off with this law than without it,” Clinton said.
The botched rollout of insurance marketplaces known as exchanges, exemplified by the failure of the national website HealthCare.gov, resembles the glitches that hurt Medicare Part D when it came off the line under then-President George W. Bush.
“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 rollout,” Clinton said. “It was a disaster.”
“And they fixed it,” he added.
Asked about his comments, the White House said Clinton was still “explainer in chief” and underlined that Obama was looking at ways to help Americans whose health coverage is being canceled.
“We haven't announced any potential fixes or moves that we might be able to make to address this problem,” press secretary Jay Carney told reporters. But Obama is “very interested in trying to address this problem and looks forward to being presented the options that he might be able to pursue.”
Carney did not rule out a legislative fix — but dismissed a proposal from Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., that would allow insurers to keep selling plans that don’t meet Obamacare’s standards.
“We see that as throwing the baby out with the bath water,” the spokesman said.
Currently, the law allows people to stay on those plans as long as they have not changed or been issued since the president signed the measure into law. Obama aides say that allowing insurers to enroll new customers into older, substandard plans would amount to rolling back the Affordable Care Act’s new standards for coverage.