(Photo: Reuters/Larry Downing)
President Barack Obama admitted on Thursday that the rollout for the Affordable Care Act was "fumbled," and announced that Americans will be able to keep their current insurance plans for one more year – if the insurers offer such an option.
The ACA has faced a number of problems since its launching on Oct. 1, with a website that has been plagued by glitches, and a growing number of people who have complained that they are losing their insurance plans, which contradicts previous promises the president had made.
"This fix won't solve every problem for every person. But it's going to help a lot of people," the president said in a briefing at the White House.
"Doing more will require work with Congress. And I've said from the beginning, I'm willing to work with Democrats and Republicans to fix problems as they arise. This is an example of what I was talking about. We can always make this law work better."
Former President Bill Clinton spoke out on Tuesday asking for such a change, suggesting that the ACA law should indeed be changed to reflect that promise and allow people the option to keep their current insurance plan if they are happy with it.
"I personally believe, even if it takes a change in the law, that the president should honor the commitment the federal government made to those people and let them keep what they've got," Clinton told Ozy.com.
Obama insisted that the change is being made to address the concerns of Americans who have received notices that their current insurance plans are being cut due to the ACA.
"The key point is that it allows us to be able to say to the folks who receive these notices, look, you know, I, the president of the United States, and the insurance – the insurance model of the Affordable Care Act – is not going to be getting in the way of you shopping in the individual market that you used to have," the president explained.
He further admitted that the way he previously explained the ACA law – "If you like your plan, you can keep your plan" – ended up "not being accurate."
"My expectation was that for 98 percent of the American people, either it genuinely wouldn't change at all, or they'd be pleasantly surprised with the options in the marketplace and that the grandfather clause would cover the rest. That proved not to be the case. And that's on me."
Obama admitted that the rollout for the healthcare law was "fumbled" and that "we should have done a better job of getting that right on day one."
The fix proposed by Obama may not work for everyone, however, as CNN's Dana Bash further pointed out that insurance companies are not actually being required to extend the existing plans, but are being allowed to offer an extra year of coverage. Furthermore, insurers will have to send notices about the difference in benefits between their plans and the ones offered through Obamacare.
"Changing the rules after health plans have already met the requirements of the law could destabilize the market and result in higher premiums for consumers," warned Karen Ignagni, chief executive of America's Health Insurance Plans. "Additional steps must be taken to stabilize the marketplace and mitigate the adverse impact on consumers."
On Wednesday, the White House revealed that only 26,794 people have signed up using the Healthcare.gov website in October, a smaller number than expected.