While a prime opponent of Obamacare was trying to kill the law in the Senate, President Obama promoted the health care law Tuesday with former President Bill Clinton and warned of Republicans spreading “misinformation.”
“There’s been billions of dollars spent making people scared and worried about this stuff,” Mr. Obama said at a forum at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City. “Those [who] have opposed the idea of universal health care in the first place and have fought this thing tooth and nail have been trying to scare and discourage people from getting a good deal.”
He urged the audience to “take a look at it, and you will discover that this is a good deal for you.”
For the second time in a month, the president sought the help of Mr. Clinton to explain the merits of Obamacare ahead of Tuesday’s start of open enrollment for health insurance on various “exchanges” being set up in each state.
Mr. Clinton tried to refute the complaint that the law is leading to more part-time jobs as larger employers seek to dodge the requirement of providing insurance to full-time employees or paying a fine.
“I’ll save the president some time and energy on this: So far, that’s not true,” Mr. Clinton said. “The overwhelming number of people who have been hired coming out of this recession have been hired at lower wages, but they have been full-time employees. There has not been an increase in the percentage of our employment in part-time work.”
Mr. Clinton served as a talk-show host at the event, urging Mr. Obama to describe the benefits of the new law. As they chatted, Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, was waging a filibuster on the Senate floor to defund the health care program.
The president said opponents of the law are afraid it will become too popular.
“They’re saying, people will like this thing too much, and then it will be really hard to roll back,” Mr. Obama said.
“Tell them how this has got to work,” Mr. Clinton prompted the president, adding that the program “only works” financially if younger, healthier people sign up.
Mr. Obama said young people must sign up or pay a financial penalty because the uninsured end up being a costly burden for those with health insurance.
“What happens if you get hit by a bus, Heaven forbid?” Mr. Obama asked. “So there’s a small penalty if you don’t get health insurance.”
The president said the cost of the program for a healthy 27-year-old woman will be less than her monthly cellphone bill, although Mr. Obama acknowledged “we’ll be continuing to roll out what the actual prices are going to end up being.”
Mr. Obama also said polls showing that most Americans don’t favor Obamacare reflect a fear of the unknown. As proof, he cited an advertising campaign that was used to defeat Mr. Clinton’s proposed health care plan in the early 1990s.
“The devil you know is always … better than the devil you don’t know,” he said. “That’s what ‘Harry and Louise’ was all about back — back in the ‘90s, right? It was scaring people with the prospect of change. Part of our goal here is just to make sure people have good information.”