Photo: Barack Obama (Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama on Thursday announced changes intended to improve the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and ease public anger over the functioning of the HealthCare.gov Web site and the ACA-linked cancellation of existing health insurance policies.
“I mean, we fumbled the rollout on this health care law,” acknowledged Obama in an appearance at the White House at which he announced that citizens who want to do so may keep through 2014 their health insurance plans that must be renewed or cancelled at the end of the year to comply with the standards of the ACA.
He said, however, that the insurance companies must inform customers about alternative plans set forth in the ACA as well as what benefits they are losing by keeping their old medical plans.
“And my pledge to the American people is ... that we’re going to solve the problems that are there, we’re going to get it right, and the Affordable Care Act is going to work for the American people,” the president said.
Since the opening of the new exchanges on Oct. 1, millions of people have received cancellation notices for their current health plans despite the fact that Obama and his advisors had repeatedly said starting in 2010 that people who were satisfied with their coverage would not have to change plans when the reform was implemented.
The president on Thursday emphasized that policy cancellations have affected only people among the 5 percent of the public who have individual insurance, as opposed to a group plan.
Obama also referred to the numerous technical problems with the HealthCare.gov website where people can shop for new health insurance plans.
“OK, on the Web site, I was not informed directly that the Web site would not be working the way it was supposed to,” he said.
“I’m accused of a lot of things, but I don’t think I’m stupid enough to go around saying, this is going to be like shopping on Amazon or Travelocity a week before the Web site opens if I thought that it wasn’t going to work,” Obama added.
“And buying health insurance is never going to be like buying a song on iTunes. It’s just a much more complicated transaction. But I think we can continue to make it better,” he said.