WASHINGTON (AP) — Bowing to intense criticism, President Barack Obama apologized to Americans who are losing health insurance plans he repeatedly said they could keep and pledged to find fixes that might allow people to keep their coverage.

“I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me,” he said in an interview Thursday with NBC News.

He added: “We’ve got to work hard to make sure that they know we hear them, and we are going to do everything we can to deal with folks who find themselves in a tough position as a consequence of this.”

Officials said the president was referring to fixes his administration could make on its own, not legislative options proposed by congressional lawmakers.

The president’s apology comes as the White House tries to combat a cascade of troubles surrounding the rollout of the health care law, often referred to as “Obamacare.”

The HealthCare.gov website that was supposed to be an easy portal for Americans to purchase insurance has been hobbled by technical issues. And with at least 3.5 million Americans receiving cancellation notices from their insurance companies, there’s new scrutiny aimed at the way the president tried to sell the law to the public in the first place.

Obama stopped short in Thursday’s interview of apologizing for telling Americans they would be able to keep their insurance plans if they liked them — a promise he has made repeatedly since the law was enacted. But he did take broader responsibility for the health care woes than in his previous comments about the flawed rollout, declaring that if the law isn’t working, “it’s my job to get it fixed.”

“When you’ve got a health care rollout that is as important to the country and to me as this is and it doesn’t work like a charm, that’s my fault,” he said.

Some Republicans, who remain fierce opponents of the law three years after it won congressional approval, appeared unmoved by Obama’s mea culpa.

“If the president is truly sorry for breaking his promises to the American people, he’ll do more than just issue a halfhearted apology on TV,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in a statement.

In recent days, focus has intensified on the president’s promise that Americans who liked their insurance coverage would be able to keep it. He repeated the line often, both as the bill was being debated in Congress and after it was signed into law.

But the health care law itself made that promise almost impossible to keep. It mandated that insurance coverage must meet certain standards and that policies falling short of those standards would no longer be valid except through a grandfathering process, meaning some policies were always expected to disappear.

The White House says under those guidelines, fewer than 5 percent of Americans will have to change their coverage. But in a nation of more than 300 million people, 5 percent is about 15 million people.

Officials argue that those forced to change plans will end up with better coverage and that subsidies offered by the government will help offset any increased costs.

“We weren’t as clear as we needed to be in terms of the changes that were taking place,” Obama told NBC. “And I want to do everything we can to make sure that people are finding themselves in a good position, a better position than they were before this law happened.”

The president’s critics have accused him of misleading the public about changes that were coming under the law, which remains unpopular with many Americans.

Obama dismissed those accusations, saying the White House was operating in “good faith.” He acknowledged that the administration “didn’t do a good enough job in terms of how we crafted the law” but did not specify what changes his administration might make.

The White House has not formally taken a position on a variety of proposals from Congress to address issues that have arisen since the insurance sign-ups launched on Oct. 1.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., has proposed requiring insurance companies to reinstate canceled plans, and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is supporting a measure to delay for a year the penalties for going without insurance. Another Democrat, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, is asking Obama to extend the open enrollment period for insurance exchanges because of the widespread problems with the website.

On Wednesday, Obama met at the White House with Senate Democrats facing re-election next year to try to ease their concerns about the impact the rough health care rollout might have on their races. Many senators in the meeting asked for the enrollment period to be extended beyond the March 31 end point, but the White House said it doesn’t think that will be necessary.

“Keep in mind that the open enrollment period, the period during which you can buy health insurance is available all the way until March 31,” Obama said. “And we’re only five weeks into it.”

21 thoughts on “Obama Apologizes to People Losing Health Coverage

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  4. Jiggy5 on said:

    This is a complete failure and the blame falls squarely on Obama. I know you Peeps prefer to ignore this obvious fact, but it is a fact.

    • Katren Moss on said:

      Yes, the blame does lay with President Obama but not for the reasons you are thinking….it rests with him as the author of this plan who in my opinion did not do his due diligence (dot every i & cross every t) to make sure there was minimal issues by surrounding himself with trust worthy and capable people who didn’t have a hidden agenda….but to his credit this is a major reform that many Presidents before him could not pull off and he did– however; he could not pull off alone; he needed EVERYBODY in Congress to do their part….On the other hand, to be honest, the way this country has treated him because of the color of his skin is nauseating…so even if he did his part people would still see the negative instead of the positive…again, I myself did not like the plan but am I going to hate the man for trying…NO! So let’s get over it and move on….

      • Katren Moss on said:

        Jiggy5…that’s how ignorance continue on in America…it wasn’t one man that passed the Healthcare Reform, it was Congress (by voting…you know that right we have) and it was upheld by the Supreme Court…so if you want to be technical; those people are to blame…You do know that Congress had the power to reject this, right?

        Just like most things, sometimes you cannot anticipate the true damages until things are in motion….The Biggers Water Act is one of them…it was passed for one thing but there was a loop hole that nobody paid attention to that would affect millions of homeowners Flood Insurance rates, doubling and in extreme cases; quadrupling it depending on where you live….an unintended thing happened….so stop with all the stupidity….

  5. Katren Moss on said:

    This whole healthcare reform is a mess…the intentions were good but the execution is horrible. I don’t agree you should make people buy health insurance if they can’t afford to however I do understand the thought process and it was passed into law. Now we need to help make it good instead of criticizing the President’s every move…..Most people are only making a big issue about this because the man is Black…many do not even respect him as President of the United States and all our enemies are laughing at us…a house (or country) divided against itself will fail! I strongly believe the website was sabotage for this reason….Start blaming Congress for this mess because as you should know, they hold the voting power; NOT the President. Come on USA, we are better than this!

    • I must say the thought of sabotage did cross my mind. We have no way of know the political leanings of the techs. who were hired to create the site. Additionally, the project may have been underfunded to purchase all the hardware, software and storage needed for a successful role out. Like I said, I have wondered about some of these things.

  6. Unless your use to the government running your lives, you know what coverage best serves you
    why do I need full coverage on a 1988 ford when liability is the obvious choice?
    Why would a 50yro woman want maternity coverage if she didn’t need it, her choice
    The people who have these individual polices are obviously people who are capable of
    making there on decisions about what works best in their lives.
    Unless you live your life as a dependent of government assistance programs you can see how millions
    of people would be upset

  7. The way I see it, those who are raising a stinck about their insurance being cancelled, let them keep it even though their plan covers nothing. It would be their lost. It is not the President’s fault that the insurance company is sending out cancellation notices, they do this yearly any way. In these cases they should be offering a better plan.

    • bsmart: I’m with you….let them keep their high priced/minimal coverage individual policies. And in the future if they have a major illness that isn’t covered by their minimal coverage policies (and we are all susceptible to illnesses in the future)……then we don’t want to hear a peep from them. What a lot of people don’t understand is that the ACA policies spread the risk. I’m not going to take the time to explain “spread the risk” as it relates to health insurance; but it’s an important factor.

    • jasmine: Believe me there are plenty of insurance companies that are willing to write a policy for them. In some cases probably with lower premiums, and more benefits (a better plan)

  8. What galls me about this fake Republican outcry is the fact that they tried to block the entire ACA which ultimately will help over 30M US citizens get health insurance. Now they have an issue with the cancelled policies, which ultimately was a decision made by the insurance companies.

    With that said, I do think that President Obama and his administration needed a better tech team so the website was such a mess and I think he should have had a better understanding of what might happen to those low end health plans and prepare people sooner vs. later. I have a feeling this was one of those times when they decided to ask for forgiveness later vs. asking for permission upfront.

  9. blackspeak on said:

    The insurance companies dropped people because their policy coverage violated the law of the ACA. In order to conform to the law, the insurance companies decided to drop policyholders rather than over them better policies at the same cost as their old policies.

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