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Clinton to Obama: honor health care pledge

Former President Bill Clinton speaks in Charlottesville, Va. Adding pressure to fix the administration's problem-plagued health care program, Clinton says President Barack Obama should find a way to let people keep their health coverage, even if it means changing the law. Clinton says Obama should "honor the commitment that the federal government made to those people and let them keep what they got." AP photo

Former President Bill Clinton speaks in Charlottesville, Va. Adding pressure to fix the administration's problem-plagued health care program, Clinton says President Barack Obama should find a way to let people keep their health coverage, even if it means changing the law. Clinton says Obama should "honor the commitment that the federal government made to those people and let them keep what they got." AP photo

WASHINGTON — Adding pressure to fix the administration’s problem-plagued health care program, former President Bill Clinton says President Barack Obama should find a way to let people keep their health coverage, even if it means changing the law.

Clinton says Obama should “honor the commitment that the federal government made to those people and let them keep what they got.”

The former president, a Democrat who has helped Obama promote the 3-year-old health law, becomes the latest in Obama’s party to urge the president to live up to a promise he made repeatedly, declaring that the if Americans liked their health care coverage, they would be able to keep it under the new law.

Instead, millions of Americans have started receiving insurance cancellation letters. That, coupled with the troubled launch of the health care law’s enrollment website, has prompted Republican critics and frustrated Democrats to seek corrections in the law.

House Republicans have drafted legislation to give consumers the opportunity to keep their coverage. Ten Senate Democrats are pushing for an unspecified extension of the sign-up period and in a private White House meeting last week several pressed Obama to do so. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., has proposed legislation that would require insurance companies to reinstate the canceled policies.

The White House says it is working on changes that would ease the impact of the cancellations for some people. But the fixes under consideration are administrative actions, not congressional changes to the law.

White House spokesman Jay Carney on Tuesday reiterated the White House argument that the cancellations apply to only about 5 percent of Americans who obtained health care insurance. He also argued that more than half of those people receiving termination notices would benefit from better insurance at lower prices either through expanded Medicaid or through new health care marketplaces.

For the remainder, Carney said, “The president has instructed his team to look at a range of options.”

In his interview with the website www.OZY.com, Clinton overall praised the health care legislation. “The big lesson is that we’re better off with this law than without it.”

Carney noted that Clinton’s own efforts to pass health care legislation during his presidency were blocked.

“The goal here is to achieve what President Clinton and presidents both Democratic and Republican sought to achieve in the past,” he said.

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