Bill Clinton says GOP has duty to help fix ObamaCare 'glitches'

Former President Bill Clinton on Wednesday said Republicans have a duty as elected officials to help fix the “glitches” in ObamaCare.

Clinton lent his reputation as "explainer in chief" to the healthcare law's rollout, delivering a roughly hourlong speech in which he praised ObamaCare and criticized congressional Republicans for their steadfast opposition.

"It is the law," Clinton said. "We've all got an interest in trying to faithfully execute the law. To get one of these elected jobs, you actually take an oath to do that."

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In the speech at his presidential library in Little Rock, Ark., Clinton said the healthcare law does have problems — and that Republicans should try to solve them.

"We all get paid to show up for work, and we need all hands on deck here," Clinton said.

The former president, who unsuccessfully pursued comprehensive healthcare reform in his first years in office, said ObamaCare is "the best chance we've had" to provide near-universal coverage and repair an inefficient healthcare system.

Clinton delivered the speech weeks ahead of the critical Oct. 1 deadline to launch new insurance marketplaces, also known as exchanges, in each state. Echoing Obama, Clinton acknowledged that some technical hiccups are likely. But said bumps in the road come with the territory of major reforms.

"There may be glitches, but so far there's no evidence to suggest that they won't be able to be fixed quickly," Clinton said.

Although Clinton conceded that he sees several flaws in the Affordable Care Act, he rebutted the familiar criticisms about cost increases and cuts to workers' hours. 

"This law has already done a lot of good," Clinton said.

His proposed fixes would all expand the law, particularly its tax credits.

The worst problem in the Affordable Care Act, Clinton said, is a provision related to healthcare coverage for families. 

In some cases, one family member might be able to affordably insure himself or herself through an employer, but not the rest of the family. And the rest of the family could not receive tax subsidies to buy coverage through the healthcare law's exchanges.

"It's obviously not fair, and it's bad policy," Clinton said.

He said he believes the provision was a drafting error.

"If this is the only unintended consequence of the law, they did a pretty good job," he said.

Clinton also called for expanding tax credits to help small businesses cover the cost of providing health insurance to their workers. And he said Republican-led states are creating new obstacles to coverage by refusing to accept the law's Medicaid expansion.

"Not cooperating means the state's taxpayers will pay for this and the money will go to somebody else, somewhere else," Clinton said while discussing Arkansas's unique plan to expand Medicaid.

He noted that several Republican governors have embraced the Medicaid expansion and said congressional Republicans should follow that example.

"We'd all be better off making it work as well as possible, to identify the problems and to fix them, instead of replaying the same old battles," he said.

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