Former President Clinton Defends Federal Health Care Law

Sep 4, 2013

Former President Bill Clinton speaks Wednesday at his presidential library in Little Rock.
Credit Michael Hibblen / KUAR

The White House is enlisting former President Bill Clinton to help build support for the federal health care law as a key phase of the reform nears.

He made a detailed argument in Little Rock for why it needs to be implemented.

Speaking to an invitation-only crowd at the Clinton Presidential Center, the former president said opponents of the Afford Care Act have been effective at building opposition to the law.

"I’m still amazed at how much misunderstanding there is about the current system of health care," he said.

Clinton acknowledged that anytime you work on an issue as complex as health care reform, there will be problems. But he’s urging opponents of the law to work with supporters so the benefits of expanding coverage can be realized.

“We’re going to do better working together and learning together than we will trying over and over again to reform the law or rooting for it to fail.”

Clinton called Arkansas an example of how Democrats and Republicans can work together to craft a compromise. The private option, which passed the legislature earlier this year, will allow Medicaid dollars to be used to buy private insurance.

The former president believes lawmakers in Washington should also work together to reach an agreeable solution.

“So far the direst predictions for the adverse consequences have not materialized and I don’t believe they will," Clinton said. 

"Now this law has already done a lot of good. It’s about to make 95 percent of us insured with access to affordable care. It has built in incentives to lower costs and improve quality, including lots of opportunities for states to innovate and Arkansas is exhibit A. You should all be very proud of what your representatives have done.”

Clinton’s speech was the first in a series by Obama administration officials and allies defending the law before the October 1st open enrollment for insurances exchanges.

Republicans in Arkansas’ congressional delegation have been split over efforts to defund the health care law.

Senator John Boozman and Representative Steve Womack have spoken against such an approach, warning it could lead to a government shutdown.