Obama Apologizes to People Losing Health Coverage

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  • 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.

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