KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Cancellation Letters Put White House On The Defensive

Even as the Obama administration struggles to recover from the troubled launch of, a new issue has cropped up that is calling into question one of President Barack Obama's often-repeated health law promises -- that if a person has health insurance they like, they'll be able to keep it.

Politico: White House Playing Defense On Obamacare
For every positive statistic about the law, there’s a horror story that calls into question the broad promises of Obamacare and gives Republicans something else to criticize. It’s forced the White House into yet another frustrating round of Whac-A-Mole, beating back one negative development only to find several more right behind it (Budoff Brown, 10/29).

The Wall Street Journal: White House Races To Quell Health Uproar
The White House is racing to rebuild confidence in a new health-care system that has so far fallen short of President Barack Obama's promises, as the mounting uproar threatens to overwhelm his second-term agenda. Just two weeks ago, Mr. Obama seemed to prevail in a face-off with congressional Republicans over the federal shutdown and was seeking to shift the public focus to an immigration overhaul, one of his top priorities (Nelson and Nicholas, 10/29).

The Washington Post: Obama Accused Of Breaking Promise To Consumers As Health Plans Cancel Policies
A new controversy over the president’s health-care law is threatening to overshadow the messy launch of its Web site: Notices are going out to hundreds of thousands of Americans informing them that their health insurance policies are being canceled as of Dec. 31. The notices appear to contradict President Obama’s promise that despite the changes resulting from the law, Americans can keep their health insurance if they like it. Republicans have seized on the cancellations as evidence that the law is flawed and the president has been less than forthright in describing its impact (Sun and Somashekhar, 10/29).

The New York Times: Cancellation of Health Care Plans Replaces Website Problems As Prime Target
The rising concern about canceled health coverage has provided Republicans a more tangible line of attack on the law and its most appealing promise for the vast majority of Americans who have insurance: that it would lower their costs, or at least hold them harmless. Baffled consumers are producing real letters from insurance companies that directly contradict Mr. Obama’s oft-repeated reassurances that if people like the insurance they have, they will be able to keep it (Weisman and Pear, 10/29).

The Wall Street Journal: Canceled Policies Heat Up Health Fight
Highlighting a growing number of such notices, Republicans trained their fire on President Barack Obama, who said in 2009, "If you like your health-care plan, you will be able to keep your health-care plan. Period." The president repeated that message numerous times before the law passed in 2010, and some Democrats said he had left them ill-prepared to respond to the latest charge, which follows the botched launch of the website intended to help Americans sign up for new policies (Radnofsky and Martin, 10/29).

Los Angeles Times: Obama's Healthcare Promises Return To Haunt Him
As the pitchman for his landmark healthcare law, President Obama promised to make buying insurance as easy as buying a plane ticket online or a "TV on Amazon." It would be simple, he said. … With the federal website hobbled by bad design and thousands of policyholders receiving cancellation notices, Obama's promises are not being met — prompting charges of deception from some Republicans and concessions from some allies that elements of the law were oversold (Hennessey and Parsons, 10/29).

Bloomberg: Obama Health Vow Won’t Shield Millions From Cancellation
President Barack Obama’s advisers deliberately crafted his signature health-care law to fulfill his oft-repeated promise: if you like your insurance, you can keep it. Even with that provision, Obama administration officials knew by June 2010 that as many as 10 million people with individual insurance probably would be thrown off existing plans anyway (Dorning, 10/30).

The Washington Post's The Fact Checker: Obama's Pledge That 'No One Will Take Away' Your Health Plan
Many readers have asked us to step back into time and review these statements by the president now that it appears that as many as 2 million people may need to get a new insurance plan as the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, goes into effect in 2014. As we were considering those requests, one of the president's most senior advisers then tweeted a statement on the same issue that cried out for fact checking (Kessler, 10/30).

ABC News: Keep Your Coverage Under Obamacare: Fact Or Fantasy?
Today, for the first time, the Obama administration issued a direct apology for the snafus that have hampered signups to “I want to apologize to you that the website has not worked as well as it should,” Marilyn Tavenner, chief for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said in testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee. But there is no apology for the latest dustup over Obamacare—the claim that no one will force you to change your current insurance plan (Avila, 10/29).

NBC News: White House: President Didn’t Mislead On Insurance Promise
The White House argued Tuesday that President Barack Obama didn’t mislead the public when he repeatedly promised Americans “If you like your health plan, you will be able to keep your health plan” under the Affordable Care Act. Press secretary Jay Carney said the president’s declaration was still technically true even as almost two million Americans across the country are getting, or are about to get, letters canceling policies purchased on the individual market (O’Brien, 10/29).

CBS News: Obamacare: More Than 2 Million People Getting Booted From Existing Health Insurance Plans
CBS News has learned more than two million Americans have been told they cannot renew their current insurance policies -- more than triple the number of people said to be buying insurance under the new Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare. CBS News has reached out to insurance companies across the country to determine some of the real numbers -- and this is just the tip of the iceberg, Crawford said. The people who are opening the letters are shocked to learn they can't keep their insurance policies despite President Obama's assurances to the contrary (Crawford, 10/29).

Bloomberg: California Coverage Cancellations Show Obamacare Price Increases
San Francisco writer Lisa Buchanan said she and her husband got notices that they’ll have to pay almost twice as much for health insurance because their current coverage doesn’t comply with Obamacare. In Mill Valley, California, retiree Diane Shore got a letter saying her plan is being eliminated and she’ll be moved to a new one with higher premiums (Vekshin, 10/30).

In some cases, consumers will face higher prices -

The New York Times: People Who Buy Own Health Policies Face Big Changes
As Washington and much of the rest of the nation debate whether President Obama misled Americans when he said that people who like their health plans may keep them, tens of millions of people are finding that their insurance is largely unchanged by the new health care law. … Insurers are informing many of those people that their old plans have been discontinued and that they must choose new plans at new prices (Abelson, 10/29).

The Wall Street Journal: Some Consumers Face Jump In Prices As Old Policies End
Many consumers, particularly those who are healthy and don't qualify for government subsidies, will have to pay more—sometimes double their current rates. Peter Fritzinger, a retired 55-year-old business executive who lives in Denver with his wife and three children, got notice in late August that his Humana Inc. plan would be canceled at the end of the year (Martin and Weaver, 10/29).

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