Former President Bill Clinton is urging President Obama to allow Americans who have lost their health plans amid the Affordable Care Act rollout to be able to keep their current insurance.
In an interview with OZY.com, published on Tuesday, Clinton said that the president should follow through on his original pledge to the American people in stating “if you like your plan, you can keep it.”
“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 said in the web interview, citing an encounter with a young man he met the week before whose policy was canceled and substituted with one that doubled his monthly premium. The man also told Clinton he is paying twice as much for the same health care coverage for his family, but his copays and deductibles are “much lower.”
Despite the Obama adminstration’s promise that the health care law would not lead anyone to unwillingly lose their existing health insurance, nearly 3.5 million individual policy holders lost their current health care plans as a result of the law’s implementation, according to the Associated Press. Clinton’s comments are significant because he, too, faced legislative battles over health care policy while in office.
In an exclusive interview with NBC News’ Chuck Todd last week, Obama apologized for the insurance cancellations many individuals received and said his administraion is looking at ways to change that portion of the law.
“I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me,” Obama said.
Clinton, a longtime defender of the health care law, also noted that the country is better off with the Affordable Care Act.
Meanwhile, several bills in Congress have been introduced to delay and ultimately reverse the cancellations.
Rep. John Barrow on Tuesday became the first Democrat to join Republicans as a co-sponsor of the “Keep Your Health Plan Act,” which the House is set to consider on Friday. The bill would allow Americans to continue to enroll in their current individual health care plans that do not meet the Affordable Care Act’s standards for one year.
“I applaud President Clinton for joining the bipartisan call for President Obama to keep his promise to the American people,” House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement. “These 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. That’s why all Democrats concerned about the president’s broken promise should join Republicans in voting to pass the Keep Your Health Plan Act when it comes before the House later this week. President Clinton understood that governing in a divided Washington requires a focus on common ground, and I hope President Obama will follow the former president’s lead.”
The White House said Tuesday that it agreed with Clinton. “The president has tasked his team with looking at a range of options, as he said, to make sure that nobody is put in a position where their plans have been canceled and they can’t afford a better plan, even though they’d like to have a better plan,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said, noting the former president’s praise for the underlying law.
Carney also said that the White House hopes to be able to release health care enrollment numbers “by the end of the week.” He could not confirm any of the numbers currently circulating in media reports and urged reporters to wait until the official release of numbers, stressing that the administration expects numbers to be relatively low in the first month.