The President’s promise that consumer who like their current health insurance plan will be able to keep it is getting extensive media coverage amid reports that millions of Americans are receiving notices that their individual health insurance policies will be canceled because they do not comply with the ACA. All three network news broadcasts reported on the cancellations and the President’s comments last evening, and the issue is the subject of extensive print coverage this morning. Almost universally, the reports cast the White House as on the defensive from criticism that the President has broken a major promise that he made repeatedly during the push to pass the healthcare law.
ABC World News reported that the President is being “accused of breaking a key healthcare promise” as millions of Americans are “learning they will lose their current insurance coverage.” ABC (Avila) added that for 14 million Americas, the President’s promise that those who like their plan can keep it “may not be true.” The President’s opponents say his claim was a “big lie,” the White House says that the “underinsured will be better off with Obamacare.”
NBC Nightly News reported in its lead story that “the assurances made by the President” are “drawing scrutiny.” NBC (Myers) added that “so far almost 2 million of the 14 million Americans who buy individual coverage have gotten letters that their policy is canceled or has to change because of the law.” Nonetheless, “the White House insists the President did not mislead Americans when he promised everyone could keep their insurance.”
The CBS Evening News reported that according to the White House, “consumers angered at having to switch their individual insurance policies after the President promised them they could keep them can find better alternatives and possibly cost-saving subsidies on the Federal healthcare website.” In a separate story, the CBS Evening News reported that “more than two million Americans are getting notices that they can no longer keep their policies, including 279,000 in California, Michigan, 140,000. Florida, 300,000. And in New Jersey, 800,000.”
The Wall Street Journal (10/30, Martin, Weaver, Subscription Publication) reports that millions of individual policy holders are discovering that they must change coverage by the end of the year in order to comply with the ACA, and for many, the price will be higher – sometimes double their current premium.
The New York Times (10/29, Abelson, Subscription Publication) reports that coverage required under the ACA “is much more generous than many of the plans that had been sold to individuals, and insurers are now pricing these policies to account for many of the older and sicker people they once could turn away but must now cover.” As a result, some consumers “may find a new policy less expensive than their previous one.”
The Washington Times (10/30, Boyer) reports that the White House said Tuesday that President Obama “didn’t mislead the public when he promised everyone could keep his or her plan under Obamacare.” White House press secretary Jay Carney said that Obama “was making the promise only for people who held a policy when the law was enacted in 2010.” Carney added that “those people are being ‘grandfathered’ under the law.”
Under the headline, “White House playing defense on Obamacare,” Politico (10/30, Brown) reports that the President’s “soundbites are coming back to bite him,” adding that Carney said that “only the 5 percent of Americans who buy insurance on the individual market are receiving letters from insurers warning of policy changes and premium hikes.” However, “that 5 percent of the population — 15 million — is still a huge number of people potentially experiencing changes that Obama promised they wouldn’t face.”
The Hill (10/30, Easley, Sink) reports in its “Healthwatch” blog that the White House “struggled to defend President Obama’s 2009 claim that people could keep their old health insurance under ObamaCare as thousands of people received notifications that their insurance companies were dropping their plans.” Republicans are accusing the President and his Administration “of misleading the public, and the controversy has become another difficult flashpoint on healthcare for the White House.”
The Daily Caller (10/30, Munro) reports that the White House “strategy to explain why millions of Americans are losing their health insurance plans” is to “blame the insurance companies.” Carney “rewrote President Barack Obama’s much-repeated ‘you can keep it’ promise Tuesday afternoon, and began blaming health insurance companies for canceling millions of individuals’ insurance plans.” Carney said, “If you had a plan… and you liked it, and you’ve kept it, you can keep if forever as long as your insurer offers it.”
USA Today (10/30, Madhani) reports that Republicans and the White House disagree about whether the President’s “repeated vows over the past four years that insured Americans would be able to keep their current coverage if they wanted to under his health care overhaul were misleading.” USA Today notes that since 2009, the President has “regularly suggested during his public pitches of the Affordable Care Act that those who have insurance shouldn’t be worried about losing it,” but on Tuesday Administration officials said that “it should be no surprise that a slice of the 5% of U.S. consumers who are on the individual insurance market would be forced to switch plans as a result of insurance providers dealing with meeting the minimum benefit requirement established under the law.”
The Washington Post (10/29, A1, Sun, Somashekhar) reports in a front page story that the controversy over the President’s promises “is threatening to overshadow the messy launch of its Web site.” Republicans “are insisting that the president misled the public about the effects of the law.” The Post notes that if accusations that the President broke his promises “stick, they could ultimately be more damaging than the glitchy Web site.”
Similarly, Reuters (10/30, Rampton) reports that the accusations that the President made a misleading promise could pose a greater threat than the website problems.
The Wall Street Journal (10/30, A1, Radnofsky, Martin, Subscription Publication) reports in a front page story that as thousands of Americans receive cancellation notices Republicans are criticizing the President for repeatedly promising that people who like their coverage can keep it and Democrats are saying that the President did not prepare them to respond to the latest accusations.
The Los Angeles Times (10/30, Hennessey, Parsons) reports that the President’s promises “have come back to haunt the president and his allies less than a month into the launch of the online insurance marketplaces at the heart of his healthcare legislation.” The Times adds that “for the first time since the Oct. 1 launch, criticism of the administration moved well beyond the website’s technical troubles” as hundreds of thousands of people “have received notices that their policies will be canceled or amended — and their premiums on new policies could rise.”
The New York Times (10/30, Weisman, Pear, Subscription Publication) reports that Republicans have “broadened their criticism” of the ACA from the website problems as the “rising concern about canceled health coverage has provided Republicans a more tangible line of attack on the law and its most appealing promise.” The Times calls the cancellation notices “a political gift to Republicans, who were increasingly concerned that their narrowly focused criticism of the problem-plagued HealthCare.gov could lead to a dead end, once the website’s issues are addressed.”
Politico (10/30, Nather) lists among its “top takeaways” from a House Ways and Means Committee hearing at which Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner testified, the fact that “canceled policies are the new broken website.”
The AP (10/30, Alonso-Zaldivar, Ohlemacher) reports that while the Administration has been warned about the cancellations, “they could become another public relations debacle for President Barack Obama’s signature legislation.” In this case, the problem “goes to the credibility of one of the president’s earliest promises about the health care overhaul: You can keep your plan if you like it.”
The Daily Caller (10/30, Weinstein) reports that New York Magazine, which is “no bastion of conservatism,” has posted avideo (10/30) on its website highlighting the President’s “lies.” In the video, the President “is seen stating over and over again, with no caveats, that after his health-care law passes, those who like their health-care plan will be able to keep it.”
The Huffington Post (10/30) reports that White House officials are pushing back against an NBC News report which “said up to 75 percent of Americans who currently buy private health insurance will lose their plans under Obamacare.” The segment, which aired Monday “said that the White House knew this as far back as 2010, even though President Obama had said that people can choose to keep their current plans.” The Post cites Tweets by several White House officials criticizing the report and notes that NBC News correspondent Lisa Myers defended the report Tuesday on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, “explaining that insurance plans that do not meet Obamacare standards by 2014 or that have been changed since 2010 will get canceled.” Myers said, “When you add those two parts together, you get to more than 40 to 67 percent of folks in the private market who cannot keep their policies even if they want to and the administration knew that.”
This morning’s opinion pages are divided about the importance of the cancellation of individual insurance policies. On one side of the argument, an editorial in the Wall Street Journal (10/30, Subscription Publication) argues that the mass cancellation of individual insurance policies was the President’s goal since 2008 because the choice of plans provided by the individual market is a threat to the ACA.
Similarly, in his column for the Wall Street Journal (10/30, Jenkins, Jr., Subscription Publication) Holman Jenkins writes that the ACA was intended to ensure that millions of Americans would lose the plans they like so that they would be forced to pay for coverage they do not want or need. Jenkins adds that the President wants consumers to pay for coverage they do not need so that he can use the money on someone else.
On the other side, an editorial in the Washington Post (10/30) defends the President arguing that while his claim “that Americans who liked their insurance plans would be able to keep them under health-care reform” is “not completely true,” it is also not “evidence that the law is a failure.” The Post notes that while some consumers “might pay more than they did before, they and many others will also get more.” The Post adds that this is not “an outrage.” Rather, it is “the predictable result of a defensible policy choice embedded in the reform.”
In a column for the Los Angeles Times (10/30, Hiltzik) Michael Hiltzik portrays the ACA in a positive light, arguing that the cancellation of “nonconforming policies” is not news