Making a fierce defense of his namesake health care reform law, President Obama on Wednesday told Americans who are losing coverage that it’s time to bid their “cut-rate” plans goodbye and go shopping for better insurance.
Mr. Obama’s comments, offered at a rally in Boston, come as more and more Americans report losing their insurance because it doesn’t meet the standards laid out in the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.
Such instances seem to run contrary to the president’s frequent and emphatic claims that “if you like your plan, you can keep your plan,” which he sometimes underlined with “period” and similar emphatics, but Mr. Obama disputed that during his address Wednesday.
“One of the things health reform was designed to do was to help not only the uninsured but also the under-insured,” Mr. Obama said. “Before the Affordable Care Act, the worst of these [health care] plans routinely dropped thousands of Americans every single year. This wasn’t just bad for the folks who had these policies, it was bad for all of us because when tragedy strikes and folks can’t pay their medical bills, everybody else picks up the tab.”
He then made a direct appeal to Americans who have received letters from their insurance companies saying their policies have been or will be canceled.
“If you’re getting one of these letters, just shop around in the new marketplace. That’s what it’s for,” Mr. Obama said.
The president held Wednesday’s event in Boston to shine a light on the Massachusetts health care reform model, signed into law by former Republican Gov. Mitt Romney, Mr. Obama’s foe in the 2012 presidential race.
Mr. Obama often has said that the Massachusetts plan offered the blueprint for Obamacare.
“This new marketplace was built on the Massachusetts model,” he said again Wednesday.
The president was introduced by current Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, a Democrat who said that now “virtually every resident” in his state is insured, and that 90 percent of residents have a primary care physician.
He also referenced the failed launch of HealthCare.Gov, dismissing criticism of the dysfunctional website as the normal growing pains of any complex new initiative.
“Our launch seven years ago was not flawless,” Mr. Patrick said. “We started out with a website that needed work. But people were patient, we had good leadership and that same coalition stuck with it and with us to work through the fixes … Why? Because health reform in Massachusetts, like the Affordable Care Act, is not a website. It’s a values statement.”
While there’s little doubt Obamacare is based in large part on the Massachusetts reform headed by Mr. Romney, the former Republican governor did offer dire warnings that now are coming true.
“We didn’t also do something [in Massachusetts] that I think a number of people across this country recognize, which is put people in a position where they’re going to lose the insurance they had and they wanted,” he said during the Oct. 3, 2012, presidential debate with Mr. Obama