KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: ‘Nation Takes Stock’ Of Obama And His Health Law; Noonan Says Now Is Time To Hold Back Obamacare; Obama Needs To Be Resolute

The New York Times: A Health Care Fix
President Obama has come up with a modest fix for a self-inflicted political wound: his repeated — and wrong — assertions that Americans would be able to keep their health insurance plans if they wanted to under the health care reform law (11/14). 

The New York Times' Taking Note: Obama's Health Care Promise
There are important questions about whether the fix President Obama offered today for Americans whose insurance policies were cancelled will help them, whether it will hinder the broad goals of the health insurance reform law, and whether it will satisfy the opponents of reform. We will start to address them later on the editorial page. But this was also one of those moments when a nation takes stock of its president. And it seemed worth noting here that Mr. Obama has dealt another blow to his own already damaged credibility with this latest reminder of how he and his team bungled the rollout of health care reform (Andrew Rosenthal, 11/14). 

The Wall Street Journal: ObamaCare Disaster Recovery
Congress right now has a historic chance—really, it could wind up in the history books next to the stopping of FDR's court-packing scheme in 1937—to hold back ObamaCare. Congress can delay it, or pass a law mandating or allowing insurance companies to continue insuring everyone they just threw off coverage. Heck, they could try to vote now, under new conditions and with the American people behind them, to repeal the whole thing. And who knows, they just might (Peggy Noonan, 11/14).

The Wall Street Journal: ObamaCare's Nonfix
You know the politics of ObamaCare is bad when even President Obama is forced to concede that the rollout is a bloody mess. If only the new "administrative fix" he announced on Thursday did more to help the consumers who are losing their coverage than it does to help Democrats protect their political future (11/14).

Los Angeles Times: Kicking Obamacare's Problems Down The Road
Faced with a growing public backlash to the 2010 healthcare law's insurance reforms, the Obama administration decreed Thursday that consumers should be allowed to keep their current policies for another year, even if the coverage falls short of the law's requirements. The move is a desperate attempt to fulfill a promise President Obama never should have made, and the legal authority for it is sketchy. What's more, it may not be possible at this point for insurers to revive policies they've already canceled. Worst of all, Obama merely punted to next year the fight over the law's insurance reforms, which he has done a remarkably poor job of explaining and selling. The only good thing about the delay is that it might stop Congress from making a more damaging change to the law (11/15).

Los Angeles Times: Obamacare: Don't Be Selfish And Shortsighted, Buy A Better Plan
In an effort to placate angry (and shortsighted) Americans, President Obama announced Thursday that they could keep their substandard health insurance plans for another year so long as insurers were still willing to offer them. Never mind that these cheaper, bare-bones packages don't meet the Affordable Care Act's minimum benefits, undercutting a fundamental part of the healthcare law (Alexandra Le Tellier, 11/14).

The Washington Post: Why Liberals Are Panicked About Obamacare
So the former president [Bill Clinton] asserts that the current president continues to dishonor his "you like your plan, you can keep your plan" pledge. And calls for the Affordable Care Act to be changed, despite furious White House resistance to the very idea. Coming from the dean of the Democratic Party, this one line marked the breaching of the dam. It legitimized the brewing rebellion of panicked Democrats against Obamacare. Within hours, that rebellion went loudly public. By Thursday, President Obama had been forced into a rear-guard holding action, asking insurers to grant a one-year extension of current plans (Charles Krauthammer, 11/14).

The Washington Post: A Troubling 'Fix' For Obamacare
This is a precarious moment for President Obama. His poll ratings have slipped, and health-care reform, his most significant accomplishment, is in danger. In a White House news conference Thursday, Mr. Obama forthrightly accepted blame and offered two ways to repair the damage. One is crucial. The other is misguided. "We fumbled the rollout of this health-care law," the president declared. He admitted that he was wrong to have pledged that those who liked their insurance plans could keep them, and he took responsibility for misleading representations that other Democrats made based on his promises. He rightly said he would have to earn confidence back by making the Affordable Care Act work (11/14).

The Washington Post: Obama Was Contrite But Also Resolute
It was a necessary retreat, but President Obama made clear Thursday that his bottom line remains unchanged: "I'm not going to walk away from 40 million people who have the chance to get health insurance for the first time." The president's pledge should be the nation's bottom line as well. It came as Obama surrendered to overwhelming pressure, much of it from fellow Democrats, and allowed people to keep their bare-bones insurance policies that do not meet the Affordable Care Act's standards — at least for a year. The change was meant to correct an imbalance that cannot long be tolerated: More people are being annoyed and inconvenienced by the new law than are being helped (Eugene Robinson, 11/14).

The Washington Post: Obama's Political Malpractice
The promise and the apology are the bookends of effective politics. President Obama has, tragically and perhaps irreparably, flubbed both. Overpromising is every politician's temptation, every journalist's gotcha, every political opponent's handy club. A chicken in every pot. Read my lips. On the campaign trail, nuance is an unwelcome intruder (Ruth Marcus, 11/14).

USA Today: Obama Prescribes Ugly Fix For Obamacare
President Obama's attempt Thursday to make good on his promise to let people keep their health insurance policies was politically inevitable. With the public howling, Democrats defecting and Republicans planning a vote today to let insurers keep selling insurance that doesn't comply with the Affordable Care Act's tough new standards, he had to do something. But political necessity doesn't guarantee good policy, and the president's plan is less a solution than it is a punt (11/14).

USA Today: 'Scrap This Law Once And For All': Others View
What others are saying about the Affordable Care Act (11/14). 

Bloomberg: Obama's Foolish Obamacare Compromise
President Barack Obama is trying to make up for an exceedingly dumb promise with a moderately dumb compromise. For many people who have lost their old insurance policies, his offer may be no help at all (11/14).

Bloomberg: What the Obamacare Numbers Don't Say
Amid the hubbub over yesterday’s embarrassingly low initial enrollment numbers for the Affordable Care Act, it's worth remembering those numbers are useful for one thing only: hinting at whether the law will perform as advertised. As it turns out, the numbers provide little hint about anything (11/14).

Bloomberg: The Latest Obamacare Fix Only Makes Things Worse
In recent weeks, proponents of Obamacare have been arguing that we shouldn't make too much of its early troubles, because President George W. Bush's prescription-drug program saw early fumbles, too. (The people behind Obamacare may not be good at building websites, but they're great at manufacturing excuses.) It's perverse, of course, to suggest that the difficulties of a smaller, far less complex program are a good omen for Obamacare. But the bigger problem is that Obamacare is vulnerable to adverse selection in a way that Bush's program was not (Ramesh Ponnuru, 11/14).

Slate: How Jay Carney Spins Obamacare's Failures
Poor Jay Carney. He's a decent guy. He has an important job: press secretary to the president of the United States. I'm a total homer for his boss, and I like the Affordable Care Act, though it needs lots of repair. But right now, if you gave me a choice between cleaning bathrooms at the bus station and explaining Obamacare's snafus to reporters every day, I'd take the mop. How does Carney handle the stress? With a few creative phrases. Here's a guide (William Saletan, 11/15).

Detroit Free-Press: Stephen Henderson: This Health Care Disaster Is Obama's Fault And He Must Fix It 
Let's get this out of the way first: Presidents lie. Lyndon Johnson lied about Vietnam. Ronald Reagan lied about his policies in central America. And Bill Clinton — forget about it. There are entire books about the mendacity indulged by White House occupants over more than two centuries. They lie for political gain. They lie for personal reasons. They lie to preserve power. So is Barack Obama the Marco Polo of fibbing for telling Americans his health care reform law would allow them to keep their insurance if they liked it? (Stephen Henderson, 11/15). 

Health Policy Solutions (a Colo. news service): Grandfathered Plans, The ACA And The 'If You Like Your Plan …' Pledge
The bottom line is some people in the individual market may have to pay more for coverage. That extra cost pays for better coverage and the security of knowing that they can stay covered regardless of their gender, health status or age – and not face financial ruin in the event of a serious illness. Reports on television and news sites have talked about these customers as winners or losers, but that score-keeping is counting only the cost of changing coverage. Ultimately, these Americans will have to factor in the value of greater security and comprehensive and affordable health care against the cost of their insurance (Bob Semro, 11/14).

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