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

Nemesis

It would be great to have a Constitutional Amendment limiting every bill passed by Congress to 1500 words.

Fromthe419

He knew he would never get elected if he came out and did what Alinsky preached, make the middle class part of the poverty class by taking more of their earnings. If he said I am going to raise middle class taxes by 50% and re distribute to the working poor, which is in fact what he said to Joe the Plumber, he would have gone down in flames. He is doing that with health care, a family of 4 in NYC making 68k per year having to spend 25% of their after tax income on health care? WTF!! Alinsky preached that the middle class was where the money was, and very few of them would ascend to the affluent class, so in order to control them you had to make them part of the poverty class. Cloward Piven 101!!

Nemesis

So, let me get this straight.

-The president wants Congress to pass something (X) that polls show the people consistently and strongly oppose.

-In order to drum up support, the president tells a
lie (Y)

-When the lie is subsequently exposed, what is the proper response.

According to most Obama/ACA supporters, it depends.....

When X was invading and occupying Iraq, and Y was the claim that Saddam had a stockpile of WMD's, the Obamamaniacs were SCREAMING for repeal in the form of brining all the troops home IMMEDIATELY, a position which made perfect sense.

When X is the ACA and Y is that you can keep coverage with which you're satisfied, they all want to double down,despite the fact that, if the truth had been widely known at the time, it probably wouldn't have passed.

Contango

Re: "Flip flopper" Pres. Obama.

Look little further than the definition of the word "demagogue":

"A political leader who tries to get support by making false claims and promises and using arguments based on emotion rather than reason."

"A leader who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises in order to gain power."

http://www.merriam-webster.com/d...

The New World Czar

The blame game goes on. Now the Ohio Democratic Party is blaming the Ohio's Lieutenant Governor for yet more Obamacare woes. 4shyster, please respond.

http://www.thirdbasepolitics.com...

Contango

Re: "Shizzle"

"It has two meanings, 'Sure' and 'Sh*t'. It all depends on the way you say it."

"Word most often abused horribly by inexperienced suburban white douche-bags who wish to give themselves some falsified counterfeit form of street-cred.

Also used by the oreo cookies who stoop low enough to keep the company of these pathetic weasels."

http://www.urbandictionary.com/d...

Darwin's choice

LMAO...Oreo cookies....chess pigeon.....moonbat...oh my!! Yet all true...

Contango

Pres. Obama, 11/14/13:

"I was not informed directly that the website would not be working as -- the way it was supposed to,"

Has I been informed, I wouldn't be going out saying, boy, this is going to be great.

You know, I'm accused of a lot of things, but I don't think I'm stupid enough to go around saying, this is going to be like shopping on Amazon or Travelocity, a week before the website opens, if I thought that it wasn't going to work."

So the Incompetent-in-Chief is pleading total ignorance?

How can this be?

Isn't he supposed to be the smartest guy that EVER occupied the office?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/po...

Contango

Pres. Obama, 11/14/13:

“Keep in mind that the individual market accounts for 5 percent of the population. “

So scr*w approx. 15 million people with individual policies?

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

“So when I said you can keep your health care, you know, I'm looking at folks who've got employer-based health care. I'm looking at folks who've got Medicare and Medicaid.”

So if THAT is what He meant, WHY didn’t the Smartest Guy-in-Chief say THAT in the first place?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/po...

Contango

Pres. Obama, 11/14/13:

"The federal government does a lot of things really well. One of the things it does not do well is information technology procurement."

Say wa?

So American taxpayers paid $600 million for a POS?

And you didn't know that it wasn't gonna work? Yet you were out there selling how great it was gonna be?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/po...

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

The wishes and the "other substance" filled the same hand simultaneously it seems, if the adage is to be believed.

Nemesis

"One of the things it does not do well is information technology procurement."

Unless, of course, that technology is for the purpose of spying on the American people, eh?

Contango

Pres. Obama, 11/14/13:

"What we're also discovering is that insurance is complicated to buy.

And another mistake that we made, I think, was underestimating the difficulties of people purchasing insurance online and shopping for a lot of options with a lot of costs and lot of different benefits and plans and -- and somehow expecting that that would be very smooth, and then they've also got to try to apply for tax credits on the website."

"Discovering"?

Good to know that Clueless-in-Chief enjoys experimenting with people's heath insurance.

Has this genius never heard of "beta"?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/po...

Nemesis

Then why is it so easy for the private sector? Private companies have offered online exchanges like this for a few years to employers who want to offer their employees cafeteria-style benefits, and they work great.

Of course the answer is that private sector brokers have to perform or they lose customers - unlike government, they can't force people at gunpoint to be their customers and take whatever crap they offer.

Darkhorse

How does the president state he is going to fix the cancellation problem and turn around and expects to veto the GOP legislation to fix the problem? What kind of games are being played? The only losers of this little political game will be the people who lost their insurance.

Nemesis

He wants to "fix" it on HIS terms, which means offer the appearance of a fix until after the midterm elections.

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