KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Obama Softens Keep-Your-Insurance Promise After Political Hardship

News outlets dive into the hit President Barack Obama is taking over his oft-repeated line about the health law that if you like the health insurance you have, you can keep it -- a sound bite that turned out to be untrue for thousands getting cancellation notices from their insurance companies. Obama walked back his promise Wednesday, saying those people can expect better coverage than that they previously had, and blamed the cancellations on "bad apple" insurance companies.

Politico: GOP Rides Wave Of Insurance Cancellation Notices
Since the Affordable Care Act was introduced in 2009, Republicans have dismissed President Barack Obama's oft-repeated promise that anyone who liked their insurance plan would be able to keep it. But was anyone paying attention? (Byers, Gold and Samuelsohn, 10/31). 

NPR: Notices Canceling Health Insurance Leave Many On Edge
President Obama repeated this line or a variation of it many times during the campaign to pass his landmark health care bill: "If you like your health care plan, you'll be able to keep your health care plan, period." But while that might be true for people who get health insurance through their employer, it's not true for many people who buy their policies in the individual market -- about 5 percent of the nation's policyholders (Ydstie, 10/30). 

The Washington Post: Obama's Health-Care Promise That People Can Keep their Insurance Comes Back To Haunt Him
It is a catchy sound bite that has turned around to bite the hand that fed it to the country: If you like the health insurance you have, you can keep it. President Obama's credibility has taken a hit over that line, which he tossed off in various versions during countless campaign stops and policy speeches (Tumulty, 10/30). 

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Promises, Promises: A Big Obama Health Insurance Promise That Never Stood A Chance
President Barack Obama's soothing promise that Americans happy with their health insurance could simply keep it was doomed from the start, and everyone familiar with the market seemed to recognize that except the president. Even his aides said four years ago, early in the huge push for his health care law, that he wasn't to be taken literally on that point. But he kept making the promise, literally and forcefully, through the long debate about the overhaul, after it became law and directly to voters in the campaign for the 2012 election. The words sometimes varied but the message didn't: Not only was a better day coming for people with no insurance or bad insurance -- but everyone else could just relax (10/31).

Reuters: Obama Blames 'Bad Apple' Insurers For Canceled Coverage
President Barack Obama said on Wednesday that "bad apple" insurance companies, not his signature healthcare law, are to blame for hundreds of thousands of people losing their coverage in the past few weeks. As administration officials scrambled to fix technical problems on an online insurance marketplace that is central to the success of the Affordable Care Act, Obama blamed private insurers for a separate problem that has critics questioning his honesty (Rampton and Morgan, 10/30).

The Wall Street Journal: Obama Tempers Insurance Pledge As Health Fight Rages
President Barack Obama on Wednesday said Americans who are losing insurance under the health law would find better coverage, rebutting a rising chorus of complaints that he had oversold the law's benefits. With Republican criticism in Congress intensifying over canceled policies and the new online insurance marketplaces malfunctioning, Mr. Obama used a speech in Boston to tell Americans that they could obtain improved insurance if they shopped around. This comes after the president has long said that people who like their health plans would be able to keep them after the new law takes effect next year (Nelson and Nicholas, 10/30).

ABC News: Obama Walks Back Promise That 'If You Like Your Health Plan, You Can Keep It'
Addressing what he called the "flurry in the news" about the cancellations, Obama urged Americans receiving these notices to shop for new coverage in the marketplace. "Most people are going to be able to get better, comprehensive health care plans for the same price or even cheaper than projected. You’re going to get a better deal," he said. The administration has said it should come as no surprise that the 5 percent of the population who purchase insurance on their own may be forced to switch plans because their coverage doesn’t meet the new standards required under the Affordable Care Act (Bruce, 10/30).

Kaiser Health News: Why Insurers Cancel Policies, And What You Can Do When It Happens
News that health insurers are ending the policies of what could be millions of Americans has rattled consumers and added to the debate over the health care law.  If you or a family member has been notified that your individual policy is being cancelled at year’s end, you may be stunned and upset. Here is a guide to help you understand the bigger picture, including why your premiums and benefits are likely to change next year and what you should consider as you shop for a new policy (Appleby, 10/30). 

Miami Herald: Florida Says It Didn't Drop Members, Just Insurance Plans
Hundreds of thousands of Floridians are currently afflicted with something critics of the Affordable Care Act long have warned about: rate shock. It’s the unpleasant experience of seeing your health insurance rates jump as a result of the health care reform law -- in contradiction with President Barack Obama’s often-repeated promise that, "If you like your plan, you can keep it" (Chang, 10/30).

CQ HealthBeat: Democrats Try To Shift Cancellation Controversy To Battle Over Individual Market
Republicans have pursued one line of attack after another on the health law since its 2010 passage without much success -- until now. The current wave of cancellation notices going out to policyholders in the individual market has led to complaints from around the country that people are being forced to pay higher premiums to enroll in new plans they don’t want (Reichard, 10/30).

Meanwhile, some news on public opinion -- 

NBC News: Poll: Majority Think Health Law Needs Overhaul Or Elimination
A majority of Americans – 52 percent – believe the health care law needs either a major overhaul or to be completely eliminated, a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds. Forty-four percent think it either needs minor modifications or that it’s working well as is. The Obama administration maintains that the health insurance exchange website can be fixed, but acknowledges major problems (Montanaro, 10/30).

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