POLITICS: PennAve

White House pressed on Obama's 'you can keep it' pledge

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The White House was peppered with questions Monday about President Obama's new caveat to his repeated promise that consumers who liked their insurance plans could keep them under Obamacare.

Speaking Monday night before an audience of 200 of his closest supporters, he added a modifying clause to the pledge that became a staple of his public pitch when pushing the signature legislation through Congress and on the campaign trail in 2012.

“Now, if you had one of these plans before the Affordable Care Act came into law and you really liked that plan, what we said was you can keep if it it hasn't changed since the law passed,” he told activists for Organizing for Action, formed from the remnants of his campaign.

The change came after Obama faced a barrage of criticism as millions of Americans receive cancellation notices from their insurance providers after enrollment in Obamacare began Oct. 1.

White House spokesman Jay Carney faced tough questions Tuesday on whether the cancellation notices undermined Obama's repeated claims and if the administration knew insurance companies would cancel some plans even as the president continued to make the “if you like it” promise.

“The provision, I think, within the Affordable Care Act was the manifestation of the president's promise, that if you had a plan that you liked, you could keep it,” Carney said. “But he didn't say if you — if your insurance company cancels your plan and gives you something else that's worse, you can keep it. He said that if you had a plan — if you have a plan that you like, you can keep it.”

Carney insisted Obama did not misled the American people and pointed to press reports at the time that said insurers providing less expansive coverage prior to the implementation of the law would choose to stop offering those policies instead of complying with the law's requirements.

He blamed insurance companies for choosing to drop the coverage and stressed that only a “fraction of a fraction” — a slice of 5 percent of consumers who hold individual insurance plans would be forced to get new policies or face higher premiums.

Carney acknowledged that the administration needs to improve its messaging efforts to direct people who are getting cancellation notices to shop for new plans on the Obamacare exchanges.

“We need to, as I just said, make sure that folks who fall in that 5 percent and had their plans canceled by their insurers in the past three years, that we need to do a better job of getting information to them so they know what their options are and they know that they will, without question, have higher-quality insurance because of this than they currently have,” he said.

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