“The real problem is that people weren’t told the truth,” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) said Tuesday on “CBS This Morning.” “You can remember, they were told that they would be able to keep their policies if they liked them. Now you hear hundreds of thousands of people across the country being told they couldn’t.”
Administration officials say the canceled insurance will be replaced by better policies. But the new line of attack comes as the administration continues to grapple with its problem-plagued Web site, HealthCare.gov.
On Tuesday, the administration official directly responsible for the rollout of the Web site apologized, promising at a congressional hearing to fix problems that have prevented many consumers from signing up for coverage under the health law. Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, also defended her agency’s management of the project and blamed some of the setbacks on the main contractor, Fairfax-based CGI Federal.
If the accusations of broken promises stick, they could ultimately be more damaging than the glitchy Web site. Although some people are signing up and benefiting from federal subsidies to buy private insurance, the number is unknown because the administration has not revealed enrollment figures.
Meanwhile, insurance companies have sent hundreds of thousands of termination notices in recent months to previously insured Americans, telling them that their health insurance plans are changing to meet the requirements of the health-care law. Under the Affordable Care Act, beginning Jan. 1 insurers must offer renewal policies that cover a core group of essential health benefits, such as maternity care and prescription drug coverage. Policies that don’t offers such benefits can’t be sold after this year.
As a result, many insurers are discontinuing policies that do not comply with these new standards. If insurers discontinue a policy, they are required to give the policyholder 90 days’ notice and offer the option of enrolling in an alternative policy.
While Republicans are insisting that the president misled the public about the effects of the law, others who are sympathetic to the administration said the seeming contradiction shows the difference between political talking points intended to sell a controversial law and the intricacies of the health policies that underlie it.
Florida Blue Cross Blue Shield chief executive Patrick J. Geraghty said Sunday that the company is dropping about 300,000 policies. Customers are being informed that they can’t keep their current plans but that their new options might be better because of new benefits and government subsidies available to low- and middle-income people.