The White House acknowledged for the first time Monday that President Obama’s oft-repeated promise that everyone can keep their health insurance plans under Obamacare just isn’t true.
For more than three years as he worked for enactment of the Affordable Care Act and encouraged people to enroll, Mr. Obama routinely pledged that people could keep their doctors and their plans if they liked them.
“If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period,” Mr. Obama said in June 2009. Later that year, he proclaimed, “Nothing in our plan requires you to change what you have.”
But today, not so much.
With thousands of people across the country receiving cancellation notices from their insurers, the White House acknowledged Monday that some consumers will be required to switch plans, which could mean switching doctors. White House press secretary Jay Carney said it’s because the health care law requires certain standards of coverage.
“It’s true there are existing health care plans on the individual market that do not meet those minimum standards and therefore do not qualify for the Affordable Care Act,” Mr. Carney said.
Former presidential adviser David Axelrod said Monday on MSNBC that most people who have insurance can keep their plans, and those who lose their plans will be “transferred to higher-quality plans with subsidies.”
But many middle-class families are finding out that they will be required to pay higher premiums for new plans and that they don’t qualify for subsidies.
Dianne Barrette, 56, of Florida, recently learned that her health care plan was not comprehensive enough to meet coverage requirements set by the Affordable Care Act. She was informed that her plan will cost 10 times more than her current premium of $50 per month.
“What I have right now is what I’m happy with,” she told CBS News. “I just want to know why I can’t keep what I have.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said it’s more proof Obamacare isn’t working.
“For months, the American people have been learning about the impact Obamacare will have on individuals and families in the form of higher premiums, canceled insurance plans, and lost jobs — more broken promises from the administration,” Mr. McConnell said. “Obamacare costs too much and it’s not working the way they promised. Obamacare’s problems run much deeper than the failed website, and it’s time for the president to keep his word.”
The latest Obamacare controversy erupted as Mr. Obama prepares to fly to Boston on Wednesday to give a speech promoting the benefits of the program. The White House timed the president’s event for the same day that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is expected to receive a grilling from congressional Republicans at a hearing on the early failures of the healthcare.gov website.
White House aides said more than 80 percent of Americans won’t be required to change health insurers, either because they get coverage through their employers or they are covered by Medicare or Medicaid.
Asked by a reporter about a family in North Carolina that discovered their premiums will rise 430 percent, Mr. Carney said he could not address individual complaints. But he said “bare-bones” insurance policies were “part of the problem.”
“It is not a fair comparison to compare those kinds of plans, which were part of the problem, to the basic level insurance that’s provided under the Affordable Care Act,” Mr. Carney said.Valerie Jarrett went to Twitter on Monday night to take a different tack, blaming the insurance companies.
“FACT: Nothing in #Obamacare forces people out of their health plans. No change is required unless insurance companies change existing plans,” the White House senior adviser wrote.