Obama, Clinton promote healthcare reform ahead of Oct 1 start

Obama, Clinton promote healthcare reform ahead of Oct 1 start
US President Barack Obama (R) speaks as he participates in a conversation with former President Bill Clinton about the future of health care reform in America at Clinton Global Initiative.

NEW YORK - President Barack Obama teamed up with his one-time rivals Bill and Hillary Clinton on Tuesday to highlight the benefits of US healthcare reform, a week before one of the controversial law's key elements, new insurance exchanges, go live.

Mr Obama, who was in New York for the UN General Assembly, joined the former president for a talk-show-like session at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) conference and urged Americans to become informed about measures designed to ensure millions of uninsured Americans get coverage.

The White House has battled Republican efforts to discredit the law, known as Obamacare. The House of Representatives passed a bill last week that would fund the US government beginning Oct. 1 only if the law is ransacked.

Seeking to allay fears and reduce confusion, Mr Obama urged Americans to tune out naysayers and inform themselves directly by reading the website healthcare.gov before signing up for affordable care.

"The main message we have ... is look, just go to the website yourself," Mr Obama said. "When people look and see that they can get high-quality, affordable healthcare for less than their cellphone bill, they're going to sign up."

His presence at CGI was steeped in politics, both past and present. He beat Mrs Hillary Clinton for their party's 2008 presidential nomination, and tension with her husband lingered even after Mr Obama made her secretary of state in his first term.

The former first lady is now the unofficial frontrunner for the Democratic nomination in 2016 if she decides to run again, and the Clintons are likely to seek Mr Obama's backing if she does.

Mr Clinton campaigned extensively for Mr Obama in 2012 and the two men largely overcame their differences. Mr Clinton gave a speech earlier this month as part of the White House's healthcare law rollout.

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