Another Stunning Reversal In President Obama’s Talking Points On Obamacare

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Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, at an Organizing for Action grassroots supporter event in Washington, November 4, 2013.

For the second time in as many months, President Barack Obama has dramatically changed his communications strategy for coping with the troubled rollout of his signature legislation.

In an interview Thursday with NBC‘s Chuck Todd, the President apologized for the fact that some people in the individual insurance market had found their health plans canceled under the new law, in violation of Obama’s promise that “if you like your plan, you can keep it.”

“Even though it’s a small percentage of folks who may be disadvantaged, you know, it means a lot to them,” Obama said Thursday. “And it’s scary to them. And I am sorry that they, you know, are finding themselves in this situation, based on assurances they got from me.” He also hinted that he would support efforts, possibly through legislation, to address the problem.

(MORE: Obama: ‘I’m Sorry’ About Americans Who Are Losing Current Health Plans)

The statement came after more than a week of attempts by the administration to obfuscate the hardship faced by some people who were being forced under the law to pay more for new insurance plans they did not choose. On Oct. 30, during a speech in Boston, Obama claimed falsely that anyone bought insurance as an individual would “be getting a better deal” under the Affordable Care Act. “So anyone peddling the notion that insurers are canceling peoples’ plan without mentioning that almost all the insurers are encouraging people to join better plans with the same carrier and stronger benefits and stronger protections while others will be able to get better plans with new carriers through the marketplace, and that many will get new help to pay for these better plans and make them actually cheaper—if you leave that stuff out, you’re being grossly misleading, to say the least,” Obama said.

Just a few weeks earlier, Obama had appeared in the Rose Garden to announce a similarly stunning reversal in messaging, this time about the state of the website designed to allow people to sign up for the plan. “No one is more frustrated than I am,” he said on October 21 of the technical problems that had rendered the website for the Affordable Care Act inoperable. For the three weeks prior, Obama had dismissed the plague of technical issues as mere “glitches,” and complained that Republicans were “rooting for failure” when they were discussed.

(MORE: Obamacare Architect Slams Health Care Law Rollout)

Complicating matters for the administration is that they knew about both issues before the public faced them, but plowed on with the implementation—and their initial message—despite it. The warning flags were clear for the website in August, if not earlier, when security reviews found issues with the site’s coding. Obama’s “you can keep it” line and accompanying policy has been flagged as misleading by fact-checkers for years, even before it was signed into law.

The shift comes as the Jan. 1 beginning of the individual mandate nears, though individuals have until the end of March to enroll in a plan before they are assessed a fine. Behind the scenes Congressional Democrats are livid with the White House, and vulnerable incumbents are already publicly throwing barbs over Obama’s handling of the law’s implementation.

339 comments
ThomasHall
ThomasHall

Time would do well to serve the public with a review of where healthcare was before the ACA and since though all the effects will not be known until all systems are up and running.  People forget that healthcare costs DOUBLED under Bush-Cheney alone and that most bankruptcies were due to overwhelming hospital and medical bills. Notice that the GOP under Bush-Cheney changed the bankruptcy laws not to benefit consumer but the banks and credit card companies many of which were later bailed out because of unregulated banking fraud that took down Wall St. and our economy. Regardless of the website issues, the ACA has already made significant improvements to insurance coverage from requiring coverage of pre-existing conditions, cost-saving preventive healthcare coverage, expanded coverage to children and the poor, expansion of Medicaid which the spiteful GOP are denying to their poorest in the states, cost-saving coverage for young adults, etc.

Try examining the greedy, corrupt insurance companies, the padded medical bills and needless tests and procedures of the healthcare industry and greedy doctors that are the highest paid in the world though our healthcare ranks 25th. The GOP oppose the ACA because it cuts into the excessive profit and abuses of their wealthy healthcare benefactors who have been gouging customers for decades. 

YogiLeeFelder
YogiLeeFelder

They enjoy abusing me a disabled veteran and my friends in the state of Florida"$ legal system!

Jamie Foxx Hosts Fundraiser For Trayvon Martin Foundation At His Home
However, they is more to the case than he knows! Try reading James Fraleigh and Yogi Lee Felder, profile page on Facebook. Make a copy and read it quickly before they remove this message! Pay attention to the major players in all our cases. Especially into the other nine young men killed in Sanford Fl to. Asked yourselves why James Fraleigh, was standing in front of the Sanford Court House calling judge Nelson, a liar. Who was the leading judge on the case and why was Benjamin Crump, setting in the audience during the actual trail? There is a whole lot more to our cases James Fraleigh, Stephen L. Felder/Yogi Lee Felder,& his daughter, Melissa Alexander, Trayvon Martin, and the other nine young men killed in Sanford, Fl. to. We are dealing with a legal system who operating under the cilor of law, and enjoy abusing us, and stealing our worldly belonging. While they violate the their oath of office and the constitution of these United State.

Your account has been banned from Huffington Post.

destor23
destor23

Why do you persist in dishonest phrasings?  "...some people in the individual insurance market had found their health plans canceled under the new law..."

The policies were cancelled by private insurers, acting on their own accord.  The law didn't cause the cancellation.  These people have a beef with their insurance providers.

RickFischer
RickFischer

ACA would not have passed and Obama would not have been reelected if he had been honest with America. He followed the advice of his political advisers and lied to get ACA passed and get reelected. There is simply no way to spin it any other way. 

barneydidit
barneydidit

"Another stunning reversal"? I'm sorry, did I miss Obama telling us he would never apologize for the fact that some people would indeed lose their policies once Obamacare kicked in? He recognized the fact that people were bothered by this issue, and he apologized for it.  I'm still waiting for George W. to apologize for getting 4,500 service personnel killed by invading a country that had no relationship with Al Qaeda, nor any WMD's. 

Adam_Smith
Adam_Smith

There must have been a lot of self deception because it is simply too hard to believe that simple lying could work. I think emotional as well as political capital was invested in the Obamacare project and that its advocates just couldn't stand the pain of recognizing its problems.


mary.waterton
mary.waterton

So Obama is sorry ... but not sorry enough to keep his words:

"If you like your plan, you keep it. Like your doctor, keep your doctor." -- Barack H. Obama

How hard would it be for democrats to pass legislation to keep that promise? 

Not very hard at all. They could do it before Christmas.

AriAsulin
AriAsulin

So much editorializing...

And yet, his apology comes across as genuine. 

Sometimes it really helps to identify articles like these. That way you know pretty much anything that can be spun will be spinning.

РУССКИЙ_ЧЕЛОВЕК
РУССКИЙ_ЧЕЛОВЕК

Обамка-агент Кремля!Ну неужели непонятно???Правильно,Максимка!Делай своё дело!

EinsteinsBrain
EinsteinsBrain

ObamaScare  is not better...if it were, there would be no need to have to 'force' the public into ObamScare Health Plans....  wake up progressives, this is regressive and anti-choice...   It is amusing to watch the libs here distort, twist and exaggerate the facts about Obama and ObamaScare  to make their incompetent president 'look good'...  

Obama will go down as the equivalent of 'the unknown comic' of presidents...

The 27+ age group is really getting shafted, and it's severely hampering their right to the pursuit of happiness


HawkeyeDavis
HawkeyeDavis

Obama still needs to apologize for lying. Most news media should apologize for letting him get away with it. They can also apologize in advance to the millions of Americans that end up with part time jobs, losing their jobs, losing their health insurance, and getting dumped on to the exchange went the employer mandate starts kicking in next year.

Bdivad
Bdivad

Better late than never. The Administration's dogged reluctance to fess up for assertions that clearly were so wrong is troubling. Did the White House not know how that plans would be cancelled, or did he know and misspeak, intentionally or unintentionally? As someone who generally supports the Administration and the ACA, this behavior undercuts faith. The ACA seems a small step in the right direction -- but if we don't keep moving on the log across the swamp [please excuse the analogy, Swampland], we likely will fall in.

sjurro
sjurro

ACA is about mandated "for profit" insurance ... and insurance is NOT healthcare.

barneydidit
barneydidit

Barack Obama won't admit he was wrong!!! Everything is always someone else's fault with that Kenyan Marxist Dictator!! We wouldn't be having this problem of a President that supports a mandate that everyone get insurance if Romney had been elected...oh...wait....Well....Obama still refuses to take responsibility for anything...we wouldn't be having this problem if the danged liberal media hadn't trashed Romney...and a bunch of voter fraud hadn't occurred...and Romney hadn't failed to energize the base...and...

SpaceVixenKlein
SpaceVixenKlein

It's dishonest to say people are being compelled to get "better" insurance policies. 

Many people have reported that the closest equivalent plan has higher deductibles, higher co-pays and higher out-of-pocket costs. And they are being compelled to pay for things like mental health and substance abuse coverage, maternity, and pediatric dental care. They are being forced to pay for things they don't need, AND their deductibles and out-of-pocket costs are going up, AND they are paying higher premiums. 

Some people are being forced to downgrade their policies and accept higher deductibles because they cannot afford the new premiums. So it's just a lie to say that people's coverage is getting better. For some people, it is getting objectively worse. 

Not to mention ... narrow provider networks and NO out-of-network coverage. That's a double whammy for many people who may need to see a specialist if there are few network providers. They are forced to either wait in line or pay out of pocket for specialist treatment. And yet they are being forced to make the trade off to purchase maternity care instead of getting a better network or out-of-network coverage. 





BruceStrong
BruceStrong

OK, I'm sorry... Now what is the Obama administration going to do about it!

shepherdwong
shepherdwong

@barneydidit I'm totally "stunned." Eff you and your editor, Zeke. Did you actually pass J-school? Seriously, and stop drinking in the morning.

barneydidit
barneydidit

@FeudiPandola No, the whole world is wondering why it took 30 years for us to pass a healthcare reform act that even comes close to actually providing healthcare to everyone that needs it. 

barneydidit
barneydidit

@mary.waterton So people on the right like to call Obama a "dictator"...but at the same time, you complain that he hasn't forced insurance companies to provide people with better policies for the exact same premium amount they were paying for their sub-standard policies?

bunkerrbusterr
bunkerrbusterr

@AriAsulin Please spare us from your wishy-washy posts. If you feel a certain way, express it clearly.

seazen
seazen

@EinsteinsBrain Since you find it so amusing, how about you provide us the "facts" regarding the Affordable Care Act that are being distorted, twisted and exaggerated by the many groups and individuals that are discussing the realities of that Act, the current health care system, and the expected changes that will occur. I would be particularly interested in the special way that the 27+ group are being hampered in their "right to the pursuit of happiness!" A definition of "happiness" before you begin would also help. Thank you.

aztecian
aztecian

@EinsteinsBrain 27+ or young invincibles need to pay now.  it is only fair. when they are old, they will need this care and it takes care of the group ahead of them.  it is time for them to step and pay their fair share.

aztecian
aztecian

@sjurro lies.  in a few months you'll have no fire power.  your party will have fallen on its face.  just look around, thugs and baggers continue to lose elections to democrats.

AlphaJuliette
AlphaJuliette

@barneydidit 

Romney failed because he couldn't connect with the average man on the street.  He failed because it was abundantly apparent that he was going to take even better care of the 1%'ers at the further expense of the eroding middle class.

Steve13565
Steve13565

@barneydidit

The words "Kenyan Marxist Dictator" in reference to President Obama always flags a post as coming from someone with the highest regard for the truth.  Thanks for demonstrating why I should trust that you would never lead me astray in anything you post.

barneydidit
barneydidit

@SpaceVixenKlein Some valid points there vixen, but I'm always baffled by this "why should I pay for something I don't use" argument, since it's something that goes on every day. I live in a part of town that is so profoundly safe, that I don't even know where the key to my front door is, and yet a percentage of my tax $ goes toward the local police department. I also have smoke detectors and fire extinguishers all over the house, have lived here for 17 years without a fire, and yet I pay for the fire department to exist. My house also doesn't have radon, but because it is a problem in the county, part of my tax $ goes toward a radon remediation fund. 

AlphaJuliette
AlphaJuliette

@SpaceVixenKlein 

I wholeheartedly agree.  There is nothing affordable with the ACA. 

At a time when most of us are still in recovery mode from the '08-'09 recession this law just does not make sense nor is it something we can afford.

AlphaJuliette
AlphaJuliette

@BruceStrong 

What they should do, in my humble opinion, is to suspend the law and develop a true bi-partisan effort to revise it or replace it.  BUT, in this climate of polarization, extremism and let's-do-anything-to-make- Obama-look-bad a bi-partisan effort has the same chance as a snow ball in hell.

seazen
seazen

@bunkerrbusterr @AriAsulin I gather you prefer one-liner posts that somehow try to take an important, complex issue and reduce it to yet another reason to scream and holler some mindless attack on someone - preferably the President.

PharmGrl
PharmGrl

Millennials don't need to pay now. They need to be RIOTING.

10,000 Boomers retire every day, each on track to collect 3 times what they paid into Medicare as benefits.

In 15 years there will be only TWO Millennials paying in for each Boomers average of 17 years Medicare and SS.

They are getting the rawest deal of ANY generation in US history.

BJ1017
BJ1017

@aztecian @EinsteinsBrain Nobody should be forced to "pay their fair share". There's nothing noble about forcing people to take care of each other.  In fact,  It's authoritarian.

Charity is only noble when it is voluntarily.  If you only give to others because you are forced to,  then that's not kindness. The only reason why you gave at all is because you fear the consequences of not complying. 

What's fair is allowing young people(and all people) to spend their money how they want to. That's true fairness.  Let charity come from the goodness in peoples hearts, and not from authoritarian force. 

SpaceVixenKlein
SpaceVixenKlein

@barneydidit @SpaceVixenKlein 

First, there is a real risk that you *could* have a fire. An infertile woman knows that there is ZERO chance she is going to need maternity care. People in counties that don't have radon aren't forced to pay a radon tax and transfer the money to your county. 

Second, those taxes are paid to the local government, which you have some control over via elections. Insurance premiums are paid to a private entity. You have very, very, little, control over what level your premiums will rise to. 

Thirdly, we're talking about premium increases of hundreds of dollars a month (thousands a year) falling on a small slice of the population. Is it fair to force a small portion of the population (middle-class families just above the subsidy level) to sacrifice several hundred dollars of take-home pay per month, plus take a significant hit to their own health coverage, just because you want "universal" insurance coverage? 

This is effectively a massive tax increase on middle class people just above the threshold for subsidies. 




Ecnalrettoc
Ecnalrettoc

@aztecian @AriAsulin @BJ1017 @EinsteinsBrain  what are you talking about @aztecian.  These mid 20 year olds are deep in educational debt, the job market is abysmal,  and the idea of purchasing a home is an impossibility.  Now they need to pay for somebody else's healthcare.  WTF, you can't be serious

AriAsulin
AriAsulin

@BJ1017 @aztecian @EinsteinsBrain 

Trust me. The kids are getting a screaming deal through ACA.

The only complaints from the so-called 'young invincibles' are from the ones who make over 400% of the poverty level and don't qualify for subsidies. 

I'm one of them. My rates are doubling. Yet, I support ACA. Can you figure out why?

BJ1017
BJ1017

@aztecian @EinsteinsBrain  I don't know what political philosophy works the best for everyone. Maybe conservatism, liberalism or socialism "works", but maybe it doesn't. I don't think there's enough evidence to decide that, so I base my philosophy on what I believe is moral.

I believe hurting one group of people in order to help another is unethical. Young people aren't "invincible". They are kids who are trying to earn a living and make a career for themselves. To take money from them is wrong, even if it's under the guise of helping the old. 

BJ1017
BJ1017

@barneydidit @BJ1017 @aztecian @EinsteinsBrain Who says I don't have an issue with Republicans? I  really don't know if it is a republican idea or not, but it wouldn't surprise me if it was. 

Either way, it's still wrong.

 Somalia has been impoverished region for centuries. A decade without a government isn't going change that overnight. 

barneydidit
barneydidit

@BJ1017 @aztecian @EinsteinsBrain OK, first of all BJ, this was a Republican idea, backed by the Heritage Foundation, so if you have an issue with the mandate, you need to start there. Second, if you really believe that all people should be able to spend their money how they want, I would suggest you spend a couple of weeks in Somalia and see how well that idea works in real life.