LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Bill Clinton today urged opponents of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) to stop trying to repeal it and instead work to improve it.
Speaking at his presidential library in downtown Little Rock, the former president offered a detailed defense and explanation of the law as a key part of its implementation nears. His nearly hour-long speech was the first in a series of addresses expected by administration officials and allies defending PPACA this fall.
“It seems to me that the benefits of the reform can’t be fully realized and the problem certainly can’t be solved unless both the supporters and the opponents of the original legislation work together to implement it and address the issues that arise whenever you try to change a system this complex,” Clinton told more than 300 people. “There are always drafting errors, unintended consequences, unanticipated issues. We’re going to do better working together and learning together than we will trying over and over again to repeal the law or rooting for the reform to fail.”
Clinton’s speech comes with PPACA in final countdown mode, just a few weeks before the scheduled Oct. 1 launch of online health insurance exchanges, or marketplaces, in the states.
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The exchanges are supposed to be a one-stop portal to the benefits of the law. Middle-class people with no access to health care on the job will be eligible for subsidized private coverage, while the poor and near-poor will be steered to Medicaid in states agreeing to expand the program. Markets will open in all the states, even those refusing to expand Medicaid.
Even though Clinton’s speech was overshadowed by the Syria debate, the White House hopes to get a much-needed boost from the former president. Obama, who has dubbed the 42nd president the “secretary of explaining stuff,” tapped Clinton’s persuasive powers during the congressional debate over the health care law, sending him to Capitol Hill to cajole worried Democrats.
Clinton, who unsuccessfully pushed for health care reform as president, praised the 2010 law for addressing the cost and availability of health care.
“This does give us the best chance we have to achieve nearly universal coverage, provide higher quality health care and lower the rate of cost increases, which we have got to do in a competitive global economy,” he said.