As millions of people receive notices that their health insurance is being canceled, the White House said Tuesday that President Obama didn’t mislead the public when he promised everyone could keep his or her plan under Obamacare.
“The president was clear about a basic fact,” said White House press secretary Jay Carney, who added that Mr. Obama was making the promise only for people who held a policy when the law was enacted in 2010. He said those people are being “grandfathered” under the law.
But millions of other consumers who purchased policies since the law was passed are receiving cancellation notices from insurers because their plan does not include some of the 10 coverage areas required by the new law, such as maternity care. It’s forcing them to shop for new — and often more expensive — coverage.
When a reporter confronted Mr. Carney with that fact, the president’s spokesman replied, “If you want to make that point, you can.”
Republican lawmakers and unhappy consumers accused Mr. Obama of lying when he promised repeatedly that people could keep their doctors and their plans under Obamacare. In a weekly address in August 2009, for example, Mr. Obama decried what he called “outrageous myths circulating on the Internet, on cable TV, and repeated at some town halls across this country.”
“As I’ve said from the beginning, under the reform we seek, if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor,” Mr. Obama said. “If you like your private health insurance plan, you can keep your plan. Period.” He was repeating that pledge during his re-election campaign last year.
And Organizing for Action, the advocacy organization that grew out of Mr. Obama’s re-election campaign, was still saying on its website Tuesday, “If you have health insurance and you like it, you can keep it.”
House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, said Tuesday that the president’s message “was not precise enough.”
“Clearly, it should have been caveated with, ‘Assuming you have a policy that, in fact, does do what the bill is designed to do,’” Mr. Hoyer said.