In reversal, Obama to allow canceled health plans

Impact on consumers unclear, but both industry spokesmen and state insurance commissioners warned that higher prices could result
Associated Press
Nov 14, 2013

His personal and political credibility on the line, President Barack Obama reversed course Thursday and said millions of Americans should be allowed to renew individual coverage plans now ticketed for cancellation under the health care law that is likely to be at the heart of the 2014 elections.

The immediate impact on consumers was unclear, though both industry spokesmen and state insurance commissioners swiftly warned that higher prices could result from the president's rapid turnaround.

Under pressure from consumers as well as congressional Democrats, Obama said the administration no longer would require insurance companies to jettison current individual and small group plans that fall short of the minimum coverage standards under the law, effectively shifting responsibility for cancellations to the industry itself.

Speaking of the millions of people whose coverage is being scrapped, he said, "What we want to do is to be able to say to these folks, you know what, the Affordable Care Act is not going to be the reason why insurers have to cancel your plan."

Obama spoke at a news conference where he repeatedly took responsibility for the woeful rollout of the health care program known by his name. Officials disclosed on Wednesday that fewer than 27,000 enrollments were completed in 36 states in the first month of operations for www.healthcare.gov .

Including enrollment of more than 79,000 in the 14 states with their own websites, the nationwide number was 106,000 for October sign-ups. But that is still far fewer than expected and a mere fraction of the cancellation notices that have gone out because of the law — more than four million according to an Associated Press survey.

Obama's approval ratings in polls are also ebbing, and he readily conceded that after recent events, the public can legitimately "expect me to have to win back some credibility on this health care law in particular and on a whole range of these issues in general."

The president also sought to shelter from political fallout any congressional Democrats who echoed the promise he repeated often when the legislation was under consideration in Congress — that anyone who liked his or her coverage would be able to keep it. "They were entirely sincere about it," he said of the lawmakers. "It's not on them, it's on us."

Shortly after Obama spoke, the major industry trade group, America's Health Insurance Plans, warned in a statement that prices might rise as a result of his new policy. "Changing the rules after health plans have already met the requirements of the law could destabilize the market and result in higher premiums for consumers," it said.

A few hours later, the head of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners added a fresh word of caution. Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon, president of the group, said Obama's proposal could lead to higher premiums and market disruptions next year and beyond.

"In addition, it is unclear how, as a practical matter, the changes proposed today by the president can be put into effect. In many states, cancellation notices have already gone out to policyholders and rates and plans have already been approved for 2014," he added.

Until the president made his announcement, the administration had been assuming that individuals currently covered by plans marked for cancellation would switch to alternatives offered in government-established exchanges. If so, they would be joining millions of others who have lacked insurance in the past.

The people with current individual coverage are a known risk to insurers. But those without generally have had less access to medical services, and are most costly to care for. The theory has been that moving people with current coverage into the new markets would help stabilize premiums.

Only last week, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told a Senate panel she doubted that retroactively permitting insurers to sell canceled policies after all "can work very well since companies are now in the market with an array of new plans. Many have actually added consumer protections in the last three-and-a-half years."

It will now be up to individual companies to decide which plans remain for sale, subject to the approval of state insurance commissioners.

Under Obama's new policy, insurance companies will be required to inform consumers who want to keep canceled plans about the protections that are not included under those plans. Customers will also be notified that new options are available offering more coverage and in some cases, tax credits to cover higher premiums.

Whatever the impact on consumers, Obama's announcement did nothing to quell Republican opposition to the overhaul they opposed, sought to have overturned at the Supreme Court and have voted numerous times to repeal.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said it was time to scrap the law "once and for all." He said, "You can't fix this government-run health care plan called Obamacare. It's just not fixable."

Even so, the House is expected to vote as scheduled on Friday on GOP-drafted legislation to permit insurance companies to sell existing individual coverage plans to current customers as well as newcomers. That is a step further than Obama went, and the White House is likely to oppose the measure as a result.

Approval in the GOP-controlled House is expected. Yet Obama's statement, coupled with an as-yet-undisclosed Democratic alternative, could well hold Democratic defections to a minimum.

Looking forward, Democrats said "Obamacare" will still turn out to be a political winner.

"Voters, particularly in swing districts, would prefer a Democrat who promises to fix and improve the Affordable Care act to a Republican who is obsessed with repealing and gutting it," said Rep. Steve Israel of New York, who heads the party's campaign committee.

The president faced a different set of concerns in the Senate, where several incumbents seeking new terms in swing states have been seeking a vote on legislation to require insurers to offer renewals to existing individual plans for 2014 and indefinitely into the future.

The bill's principal author, Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, said Obama's announcement was "a great first step," yet she added, "We will probably need legislation to make it stick."

Said Senate Majority leader Harry Reid, "If we need to do more, we will."

But others were not so eager to put the issue on the floor of the Senate.

Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois, a member of the leadership, said there was "no need for a legislative fix." Instead, he said Congress and the administration should continue improving the implementation, and "redouble our efforts highlighting and explaining what this historic law will mean for 40 million Americans without insurance."

Comments

Maggdi

.... Yes Senator Durbin. There's plenty good there worth fixing. Don't worry about freaking out million and millions of citizens who plan their future around an apparent 'misconception': That if they like their plan, they could keep their plan. And hadn't thought it would be necessary to use the exchanges. And then found out otherwise..... Sucker!

From the Grave

To me, the reversal was that you COULDN'T your plan. He'd said in the beginning that you could, so...
Someone probably told him that there might be a multi-trillion dollar class action lawsuit against the US government if he didn't do this.

Darwin's choice

Lol.....!!

Kinda hard to un-ring that bell, eh, Obama?

Credibility??? There's none left!!

There you go again

Should the coach take him outta the game after all this "fumbling" going on?

grumpy

ObamaSCARE the gift that just keeps giving.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

"...several incumbents seeking new terms in swing states have been seeking a vote on legislation to require insurers to offer renewals to existing individual plans for 2014 and indefinitely into the future."

I would laugh if it were funny but it really isn't. Again, while certainly well-intentioned, this is another Constitutional question being raised. If it wasn't bad enough for our Federal government to compel private individuals to enter into private contracts with private companies, we now have a Federal government proposing to compel private companies to sell private contracts to private citizens.

If this goes through what is to stop future Congresses from forcing people to buy or sell other things? It may seem ridiculous, yes, but when that seal is broken where does it stop? When does the adjusting, cherry-picking, and favortism cease? I don't have a doctorate in economics but I can tell you from being in business myself that instability is a major factor in what is causing "big companies" to hold onto their money. If a Congress can compel what they want when they want it, why invest into something that a President can just whimsically change?

Maggdi

And I'm curious about this magic wand our President keeps waving. The wavers that have been given like special dispensation. Changing large aspects of the LAW. Like postponing the employer mandate.
Was he concerned that this calamity would have been a complete and utter disaster? Or did the right people whisper in his ear like the others who were given indulgences? You people with individual plans just don't know the right people.

Darwin's choice

Obama is Guilty of Serial Fraud, grounds for impeachment!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b...

Darwin's choice

" My cancelled policy was no accident"

http://theconservativetreehouse....

Darwin's choice

" Howard Dean: I Wonder If Obama Has the 'Legal Authority to Do This' "

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M...

Roger15

As Hero Zone said, serious Constitutional issues are raised throughout this whole fiasco. Including but not limited to; the Constitutional requirement that ALL tax legislation originate in the House of Representatives. Since ACA was ruled Constitutional by only ONE vote and then only AS A TAX, then the bill as enacted is invalid by it's origination in the Senate.

My God......

SamAdams

Okay, everybody who's stupid enough to think this was remotely a reversal, please raise your hand now. Anybody? Anybody?

This is a little political damage control, plain and simple. First, most of the cancelled policies can't be reinstated for any number of reasons, not least of which is that contracts with medical providers under those policies have also been cancelled. Secondly, any reinstatement is TEMPORARY. You get to go through the whole thing all over again this same time next year. So why bother? To cool some of the anger until after the 2014 elections. In Obama's case, the Democrats sure did pick the right animal for a symbol!

I'm just waiting until a lawyer somewhere figures out who has standing to go after the Obama administration for fraud as well as for Obama's blatant violations of the Constitution. He can't write laws; he can't RE-write them, either. And yet, he does. We don't just have an incompetent in the White House nor your run-of-the-mill Marxist. We have an outright criminal!

The Big Dog's back

So fun reading all the little rush's on here.

The New World Czar

Rahm's brother blames Megyn Kelly and Fox News.
The prez blames the insurance companies.
The troll blames Rush.
A trend here?

The New World Czar

The truth doesn't need to be defended.
But watching the blame get deflected by the indefensible is humorous.

grumpy

".... you didn't believe in truth BEFORE this mistake ."

Which mistake? The keeping your policy if you like it, keeping your doctor, bending the cost curve down, saving families $2500 per year on healthcare, closing gitmo, pulling out of Iraq by the end of 09 and Afganastan shortly after, I could go on but hopefully you can point out which mistake you mean? It's not like "mistakes" are rare in this administration.

Darwin's choice

"Laughing stock of the country. Obama is a disgrace. He should either step down or be impeached. People are finally seeing through the media's protection of this Marxist."

Harsh words from a "person on the street" tonight!

You going to continue "bailing" on the Titanic with your teaspoon?

Hahahahahahaha!!!!!!

There you go again

Doesn't it drive you crazy when people can't punctuate properly? I think someone wasn't paying attention in their 3rd grade language arts class.....

Darwin's choice

Getting a headache "teacher"?

There you go again

Hey, it doesn't take a teacher to observe the misspellings and punctuation errors on postings. Just a sad state of America........

BabyMomma

Big dog......I have been reading your comments on messiah Obama for a couple years now. Luckily, my wife left her account open so I can comment to you. After everything that man has done to this country(not for this country) the fact that you still bow to him and support his every move is sickening. There isn't one republican that would tell you Bush was perfect. But you refuse to even admit that Obama lied to us all? That tells me you are either too stupid to understand the words he says, or you don't watch the news. Either way, I have zero respect for you, your thoughts, or your P.O.S president.

BabyMomma

Big dog......I have been reading your comments on messiah Obama for a couple years now. Luckily, my wife left her account open so I can comment to you. After everything that man has done to this country(not for this country) the fact that you still bow to him and support his every move is sickening. There isn't one republican that would tell you Bush was perfect. But you refuse to even admit that Obama lied to us all? That tells me you are either too stupid to understand the words he says, or you don't watch the news. Either way, I have zero respect for you, your thoughts, or your P.O.S president.

YoMamma

hey little dog... your president is a failure, plain and simple. Look at his approval numbers! Get your head out of your butt long enough to see what is going on around you.

Truth2u

21st century slave master Obama, ALLOWING free citizens to buy what they want for a year and then he will whip us with taxes and punish us if we refuse to buy HIS product! Only the color of the task master has changed with this man.

Darwin's choice
Truth2u

ObamASS broke his oath to the Constitution.
Of course the libtards won't read this entire article and will discuss everything EXCEPT the Constitution.

http://allenbwest.com/2013/11/en...

Truth2u

Coaster, I'm curious how you will say this is Bushes fault, or George Washington's, or someone elses, like a 4 year old does before they grow up.

http://youtu.be/D74ZO082G8Q

Contango

Pres. Obama, 11/14/13:

“Well, the problem with the grandfather clause that we put in place is it’s almost like we said to folks you’ve got to buy a new car even if you can’t afford be it right now,”

So, to use his analogy, he originally said that if you LIKE your "paid for" 10 yr. old car, you can keep it?

BUT, you were FORCED to trade it in and now you have to go back to the auto dealer and 'try' to buy it back?

Only a brain-numbed true believer could still support this jamoke.

http://www.mediaite.com/tv/obama...

SamAdams

Why is everybody so shocked and amazed Obamacare isn't working? It was a train wreck from conception onward. But Contango's "brain-numbed true believers" couldn't be convinced otherwise because, at least where their Messiah is concerned, all is sweetness and light.

Don't you just HATE it, Big Dog, when the critics are proved right? You were told literally YEARS ago that costs (both for government and for many individuals) would be insane, that people would lose coverage, that the program even if it worked as advertised was too big and too complex for administration. And you denied every word, in lockstep with our resident Incompetent-in-Chief.

At this point, our best hope is to scrap the entire thing before still MORE damages are done, and start from scratch on REAL reform, not a gargantuan government-run boondoggle!

grumpy

"At this point, our best hope is to scrap the entire thing before still MORE damages are done, and start from scratch on REAL reform,"

Start with things everyone agrees with, being able to buy policies across state lines (which obamaSCARE doesn't allow), keep the 26 and under on parents policy if wanted, no pre-existing conditions, throw in tort reform, keeping your old policy if you want, keeping your doctor. Short simple bills where things can't be hidden and helps keep costs contained. There can be more that many if not most can agree with but that would be a good start.

Just make the bills short and sweet so crap can't be added that we don't know about... no need for having to pass the bill so we can see what is in it crap, no limit on debate, give us time to read and understand the bills before they are voted on.

Most don't want big omnibus bills that take every little thing into consideration, make small bills that can be logically debated and changed as needed through the debate. Much mo betta than some 2300 page monstrosity that no one has a clue about what is actuall in it before voting for it so we can see what it is.

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