Bill Clinton speech on healthcare

You might have missed it yesterday, but Clinton did a pretty good job explaining why it’ll help and why instead of complaining about the problems in the bill, Republicans should work with Democrats to fix them. (I never understood why Obama kept denying there were serious problems. There are.)

Clinton’s policy explanations, contained in a prepared text he read with glasses perched on his nose, were familiar to anyone with a basic understanding of how the new health care law operates. But he wrapped up his case for bipartisan cooperation by outlining flaws in the law desperately in need of repair that won’t be fixed without legislative action at the state and federal levels. This was notable because the Obama Administration has downplayed glitches and unintended consequences that may result from the law.

Some flaws in Obamacare seem like actual errors, according to Clinton. The law, for instance, requires large employers to provide health insurance to employees, but not their family members. This is the case even though spouses and children of the employees will be required by the law to have health insurance, but aren’t eligible for federal subsidies to buy coverage independently. “It’s obviously not fair and bad policy, but it’s not clear to me that anybody intended this,” said Clinton. “I think Congress should fix it.”

Clinton also said he believes Obamacare tax credits created for small businesses to help them afford health insurance for their workers are too small and limited to too few companies.

Clinton also pointed to what is probably the most pressing problem in the law’s design. Obamacare was designed to provide Medicaid coverage, through a large national expansion, to all Americans earning up to 138% of the federal poverty level (FDL). Those earning above that level but below 400% of FDL will be eligible for federal subsidies to buy private coverage. But the Supreme Court’s 2012 ruling that the Medicaid expansion must be optional for states has left legions of the working poor with no way to afford insurance. Those who don’t qualify for Medicaid in a state like Texas, where Medicaid eligibility is very strict and will remain so under Obamacare, won’t qualify for subsides unless they earn more than 100% of FDL. “You get the worst of all worlds,” Clinton said. “You’re too poor to get help…And this is a problem only the states can fix.”

Clinton’s ability to persuade Republican state lawmakers to suddenly begin working with the Obama Administration on implementation of the health care law after three years of resistance is limited at best. But at this stage, less than a month before the law’s health insurance marketplaces launch, the White House seems willing to try anything—even if it means admitting, through an intermediary, that the law is flawed and needs Republican participation to fix it.

2 Responses to Bill Clinton speech on healthcare

  1. imhotep September 5, 2013 at 10:42 am #

    ObamaCare is a Republican program. What the Republicans are doing by “complaining” about it is to help Obama and the rest of the Capitalists, who love this approach to health care, sell it to the American public. Is that too Byzantine?

  2. Andrew West September 5, 2013 at 11:55 pm #

    BS. Higher costs and reduced benefits. Do the math. It’s NOT the premiums – what will it cost if you have $10,000 in medical costs during a year? About $6,500, not the “premiums.”

    Our President’s goal for healthcare reform is to “bend the cost curve,” an uninspiring and near meaningless goal. The US healthcare industry will exceed $3 trillion (20% of GDP) this year. Numerous studies have acknowledged that less than half of that amount is actual healthcare. In fact, most studies agree there is at least $1 trillion in waste, inefficiency and fraud – why isn’t that the target? Nothing in the ACA does anything to eliminate that waste and inefficiency. Nothing.

    By allowing the “industry” the opportunity to write this Law, the participants simply enriched and protected themselves. The result will be higher costs and additional taxes – not affordable healthcare.

    Our current healthcare industry is the most expensive in the world, yet we rank 38th in the world. Soon we will pass 20% of GDP and will become wholly unsustainable.

    It concerns me that so many people (for and against) believe the government will reform healthcare – what have they reformed before? Energy? Education? Agriculture? Anything? It’s delusional to believe that the ACA will do anything more than raise revenues for the insurance industry and our government – that’s why it will fail. No surprise.

    Unless and until someone presents a real solution, one that saves $1 trillion and delivers more healthcare, it will not be fixed. This conversation is a complete waste of time because there is no point in arguing a Law that only makes the situation worse. The GOP has no plan other than “status quo.” But, there is hope – look for a solution in the coming year as this latest government reform (written by industry participants) derails without ever making a real difference. America can have a fair and equitable healthcare system if it is designed that way. Changing a few rules and mandating insurance coverage does not deliver more or even better healthcare, it just creates a bigger problem.

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