After coming under fire for promising people could keep their insurance plans if they wanted to, the president announced a change that will let people keep their insurance through 2014.
President Barack Obama readily admitted to “fumbling the ball” in regards to multiple aspects of the rollout of the Affordable Care Act. And when it became clear that many Americans would be losing their health care plans, despite promises made by Obama, even his own party began to turn on the law.
The president has recently come under fire after reports that insurers were sending out hundreds of thousands of cancellation notices to people in the individual markets whose plans didn’t meet the minimum requirements under the Affordable Care Act.
In response to discontent within his own party and a Republican bill scheduled for a vote tomorrow that had the support of some House Democrats, according to Bloomberg, Obama revealed today that insurers can extend existing plans through 2014.
“I completely understand how upsetting this can be for many Americans, especially after assurances they heard from me that if they have a plan they liked that they could keep it,” Obama said in a press conference Thursday morning.
Americans whose plans had been canceled can re-enroll if they want. However, insurance companies must now notify their customers of what those plans do not cover and of options for better coverage in the marketplace.
“This fix won’t solve every problem for every person, but it’s going to help a lot of people,” Obama said. “Doing more will require help from Congress.”
However, he made it clear that he would not work with any proposals from Congress that let people keep those plans longer and, thus, undermine the purpose of the health care law as there are still 40 million Americans who are uninsured.
At the conference Obama reiterated the latest data on the insurance marketplace from its first troubled month after it launched on Oct. 1.
“It has now been 6 weeks … and I think it’s fair to say the rollout has been rough so far,” Obama said. “I think everyone understands that I’m not happy that the rollout has been wrought with a whole range of problems that I have been deeply concerned about.”
Nearly 1 million people complete applications for themselves or their families, which represents roughly 1.5 million people total. However, just 100,000 Americans actually enrolled in new insurance plans, which Obama admitted is not nearly as high as his administration would have liked to see.
“The problems of the website have prevented enrollment … and that’s on us, not on them,” he said.
The president also addressed his low approval rating and the low trust the American people has in the government right now, saying that it was up to him to win back credibility on the health care law.
“I am confident that by the time we look back on this next year that people are going to say this is working very well and it's helping a lot of people,” Obama said.