Clinton Laments Health Care

Former President Clinton, speaking Monday at a forum on health care access, contrasted his own recent medical care with that received by less-fortunate Americans.

In September, Clinton underwent quadruple bypass surgery after suffering chest pains and shortness of breath.

"I never blinked. I wasn't scared five minutes... because I knew where I was going. I knew who was going to take care of me. And I knew they would get paid," Clinton told about 800 people at the North Carolina Museum of Art (search). "I never had to give it a second thought."

The experience of many others, he said, is different, and the nation must do more to make sure good health insurance and care are available to all Americans.

Clinton's appearance came during the two-day Emerging Issues Forum, founded by former governor and Clinton confidant Jim Hunt (search). Hunt introduced Clinton. Erskine Bowles — Clinton's former White House chief of staff and a two-time U.S. Senate candidate — also attended.

Clinton's speech was the keynote address for the forum, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary.

Clinton called the current system "a crazy quilt pattern" of health insurers and said changes must be made in time to handle a growing number of aging Americans who will need care later in life.

He said fewer companies were providing adequate health coverage to employees and noted that the number of uninsured people has risen in recent years.

Clinton said that all parties, including insurance and pharmaceutical companies, would have to work together to find a solution that would create affordable health care for all.

"You can say you don't want to fool with this, but it's just going to get worse," Clinton said. "We are on course to have human misery that's unacceptable in a country as wealthy as ours."