Obama’s Apology: Can It Cure the Obamacare Fallout?


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“I am sorry that they — you know, are finding themselves in this situation, based on assurances they got from me.” This was the apology President Barack Obama issued in regards to Americans being kicked off of their health insurance plans as a result of the Affordable Care Act taking effect. His statement came during an interview with NBC News Chief White House Correspondent, Chuck Todd.

When asked about his remarks of, “If you like your plan, you can keep it,” Obama maintained that he meant it. That he and his team “worked hard to try to make sure that we implemented it properly. But obviously, we didn’t do enough — a good enough job — and I regret that. We’re talking about 5 percent of the population — who are in what’s called the individual market.” It is a problem the President says he is “deeply concerned about.”

“I’ve assigned my team to see what we can do to close some of the holes and gaps in the law — because, you know, my intention is to lift up and make sure the insurance that people buy is effective,” Obama said.

Obama consistently called the plans that had been cancelled “subpar” plans. For those who have been kicked off a plan, Obama said “the majority of folks will end up being better off, of course, because the website ’s not workin’ right. They don’t necessarily know it.”

Americans are losing insurance because their plans were not “grandfathered-in.” Healthcare.gov  defines grandfathered plans as “those that were in existence on March 23, 2010 and haven’t been changed in ways that substantially cut benefits or increase costs for consumers. Insurers must notify consumers with these policies that they have a grandfathered plan.” Both individual plans and employer based plans can qualify if they have not been changed in a way that violates the law.

“I think we, in good faith, have been trying to take on a health care system that has been broken for a very long time,” the President said. He thinks he has “been very clear about what I’m trying to do.”

In 2010, the Department of the Treasury, Department of Labor, and Department of Health and Human Services collaborated on research to examine the grandfather clause’s effects. It was printed by the Federal Register and contains estimates and explanations about plans that eventually would not be grandfathered in.

For employer provided insurance, “the Departments estimate that approximately 31 percent of small employers and 18 percent of large employers would make changes that would require them to relinquish grandfather status in 2011.”

In the individual market, the Federal Register explains, there is a high turnover rate for plans, with many policies in force for less than a year. Still, studies have found that people maintain the individual policies for longer periods of time. “Using these turnover estimates, a reasonable range for the percentage of individual policies that would terminate, and therefore relinquish their grandfather status, is 40 percent to 67 percent.” Five percent of the American population amounts to over 15 million people. Politifact has found that Obama said some iteration his “if you like your plan, you can keep it” promise at least 34 times.

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