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Obama's Second Term

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Majority Can Keep Plans

October 30th 2013

Obama in front of AMA

President Obama on Wednesday for the first time defended his claim that every American would be able to keep their health insurance plans under ObamaCare.

Obama accused his opponents of “grossly misleading” the public as Republicans seize on reports that hundreds of thousands of people have received letters notifying them that their plans will be cancelled by the end of the year.

Obama said Republicans weren't giving the full picture even as he acknowledged that some people will not be able to keep their health plans under the new law. Those forced from their plans, he said, represent a small portion of the population. He also said they would get a better deal. “For the vast majority of people who have health insurance that works, you can keep it," Obama said in a speech at Boston’s Fanueil Hall. “For the fewer than 5 percent of Americans who buy insurance on your own, you will be getting a better deal.” 

GOP accusations that Obama mislead the public by insisting that people could keep their healthcare plans under ObamaCare have added to mounting problems for the healthcare law’s rollout. The administration is trying to fix the ObamaCare enrollment website, which Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in Wednesday testimony called a “debacle” and apologized for.

The administration hopes to have the web site fixed by the end of November, but is now dealing with new criticism from people upset they cannot stay on their old insurance plans.

Insurance companies say they are changing the terms of some health insurance plans being offered to consumers because of requirements under ObamaCare. Those consumers are getting notices that their plans are being discontinued.

The administration has argued that it is the insurers who are ending the plans, not the healthcare law. They also argue that many people will be able to get better plans with more benefits, and that some can qualify for subsidies to pay for them.

But Obama acknowledged that some consumers will be forced to choose among more comprehensive — but more expensive — plans that comply with ObamaCare’s rules. “There's a fraction of Americans with higher incomes who will pay more on the front end for better insurance with better benefits,” he said in Boston.

“Because of the tax credits that we're offering and the competition between insurers, most people are going to be able to get better, comprehensive health care plans for the same price or even cheaper than projected,” he said. “You're going to get a better deal."

He also insisted that “nobody is losing their right to health care coverage.” Obama’s speech came after a tough day for Sebelius on Capitol Hill. Sebelius has become the face of the troubled ObamaCare website’s rollout, and she took a conciliatory tack with the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

The secretary said she was “as frustrated and angry as anyone with the flawed launch,” and took responsibility for the problems. “You deserve better,” she said. “I apologize.”

Justin Sink writes for The Hill, from where this article is adapted.

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