President Barack Obama maneuvered to protect his primary accomplishment from angry voters and anguished Democratic legislators, even while he presented himself as humble and contrite in his Thursday press conference.
“We fumbled the [website] rollout on this health-care law,” he said, while trying to look downbeat and apologetic before an audience of Americans who increasingly view him as deceptive, untrustworthy and a poor manager.
He issued another semi-apology for lying to Americans from 2009 until September 2013 that they could keep their pre-Obamacare plans after the Affordable Care Act became operational.
“There is no doubt that the way I put that forward unequivocally ended up not being accurate,’ he said, during a White House press conference that was intended to tout his so-called “transitional” fix of the network’s rollout.
“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,” he said while trying to minimize the public’s reaction to his many “you can keep it” claims.
During his one-hour appearance, he pleaded ignorance about the crippled website’s incomplete and untested links to other federal and state databases.
“We and I did not have enough awareness about the problems in the website… The thinking was that these were some glitches that would be fixed with patches, as opposed to some broader systemic problems,” he said.
But Obama continued to dissemble about the impact of his ambitious effort to federalize the nation’s health-sector.
Even as he apparently apologized for his false “you can keep it,” he downplayed the number of people are losing their insurance.
“You have an individual market that accounts for about 5 percent of the population,” he said, without acknowledging that 5 percent is roughly 15 million people.
He also downplayed the fact that the many people who use small-group policies are losing their insurance.
Their cancellations increase the number of people losing their insurance above the 15 million or 5 percent levels.
Insurance companies have begun canceling group plans, as required by the 2010 law. For example, more than 30 city employees in Bel Aire, Kansas, were recently kicked off their pre-Obamacare group plan.
Obama’s proposed “transitional” fix even acknowledges that group plans are being cancelled.
“Under this transitional policy, health insurance coverage in the individual or small group market that is renewed for a policy year starting between January 1, 2014, and October 1, 2014, and associated group health plans of small businesses, will not be considered to be out of compliance” with the 2010 Obamacare law, wrote Gary Cohen, director of the “Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight” at the Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, in a letter to state insurance commissioners.
Obama’s transitional fix, however, only offers not to prosecute companies that offer lower-cost pre-Obamacre plans in 2014. But it is unlikely companies will want to offer the cheaper pre-Obamacare policies that they already went to great lengths to terminate in order to comply with Obamacare. While these policies, which the president was denouncing as “cut-rate” just a few weeks ago, may have made fiscal sense in the freer health care market prior to Obamacare, they generate too little profit to offset the cost of Obamacare policies insurance companies are now being forced to sell to older or sicker Americans.
Insurance companies immediately signaled their unwillingness to implement his supposed fix.
Even as he downplayed the number of people who are losing their insurance, Obama appealed for Americans to trust him again.
“I think it’s legitimate for them to expect me to have to win back some credibility on this health care law in particular, and on a whole range of these issues in general,” he said.
“My intention in terms of winning back the confidence of the American people is just to work as hard as I can; identify the problems that we’ve got, make sure that we’re fixing them,” he insisted.