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Bill Clinton challenges California to lead on healthcare overhaul

June 07, 2013|By Chad Terhune
  • Former President Clinton said Friday that California's implementation of the Affordable Care Act could serve as a model for other states. Above, he speaks in April at George W. Bush's presidential library.
Former President Clinton said Friday that California's implementation… (Kevork Djansezian / Getty…)

Former President Clinton challenged California to make the federal healthcare overhaul work to silence naysayers and win over states that are still on the fence.

Clinton, addressing an audience of doctors and healthcare executives in downtown Los Angeles on Friday, said he remains optimistic about the rollout of the Affordable Care Act despite unease among the American public and persistent Republican opposition.

California officials, unlike those in some other states, have enthusiastically endorsed the healthcare law and taken the lead in setting up a state-run insurance market for individuals and small businesses.

"If this works in California, eventually America will follow your lead," Clinton said. "If it comes off the rails here, it will give aid and comfort to everyone who really just wants to say, 'I told you so' without being able to pass any given 10-question test about the American healthcare system."

Clinton said the law's critics "just want to see it as another episode in this long ideological war we are having.... A lot of people think government would mess up a two-car parade, therefore the answer to everything is to let the market handle it."

Quiz: How much do you know about healthcare?

The former president told a packed audience in a hotel ballroom that there are bound to be "snags" in implementing such a complex law, and that he fears achieving any legislative remedies in Washington will be impossible.

"It will be very difficult to get that kind of legislative fix because so many people have acquired a vested interest in its failure," Clinton said in a speech to the California Assn. of Physician Groups.

In San Jose on Friday, President Obama touted his signature law and said California is an example of how it can help consumers struggling to gain access to affordable healthcare. Last month the state's new health insurance market, called Covered California, announced better-than-expected rates for millions of residents expected to enroll next year.

After his speech, Obama headed to Southern California for a fundraiser and a summit with China's president in Rancho Mirage.


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