The Washington Post

Obama blames ‘bad apple insurers’ for canceled insurance plans

In a speech in Boston on Wednesday, President Obama addressed criticism that he had broken his pledge that Americans would be able to keep their health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act. (whitehouse.gov)

President Obama tried a new tack Wednesday as he fought back against criticism of his Obamacare claims.

Fact-checkers and journalists have ruled that Obama wasn't being truthful when he claimed that people who liked their insurance could keep it. Obama during a speech in Boston sought to cast the issue Wednesday as trying to weed out "bad apple insurers" who don't provide enough coverage.

"One of the things health reform was designed to do was to help not only the uninsured but also the under-insured," Obama said. "And there are a number of Americans, fewer than 5 percent of Americans, who've got cut-rate plans that don't offer real financial protection in the event of a serious illness or an accident.

"Remember, before the Affordable Care Act, these bad apple insurers had free rein every single year to limit the care that you received or used minor pre-existing conditions to jack up your premiums or bill you into bankruptcy."

Obama said any such plans that existed before the health care law was passed can indeed be kept -- notably excluding plans that began after the law was passed.

"That's what I said when I was running for office. That was part of the promise we made," Obama said. "But ever since the law was passed, if insurers decided to downgrade or cancel these substandard plans, what we said under the law is, you've got to replace them with quality, comprehensive coverage because that too was a central premise of the Affordable Care Act from the very beginning."

Obama also said that he is responsible for fixing the HealthCare.gov Web site -- even as Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius said earlier in the day that Obama isn't responsible for the botched Obamacare exchanges rollout.

"Right now, the Web site is too slow, too many people have gotten stuck, and I am not happy about it," Obama said at a speech in Boston promoting the similar Massachusetts health-care law.

Obama added: "So there's no excuse for it, and I take full responsibility for making sure it gets fixed ASAP."

The administration has set a late November deadline for fixing the Web site.

At a hearing earlier Wednesday, Sebelius said she and her department were responsible for the rollout's failings, not Obama.

"No, sir," Sebelius said when asked directly whether Obama is responsible. "We are responsible for the rollout."

Updated at 9:47 a.m.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Comments
Show Comments
The Republicans debate Saturday night. The New Hampshire primary is on Feb. 9. Get caught up on the race.
Heading into the next debate...
Donald Trump returns to the Republican presidential debate stage Saturday night. Marco Rubio arrives as a sudden star, but fending off ferocious attacks from his rivals. Still glowing from his Iowa victory, Ted Cruz is trying to consolidate conservative support, while Ben Carson is struggling to avoid being typecast as the dead man walking.
Listen
Play Video
New Hampshire polling averages
Donald Trump holds a commanding lead in the next state to vote, but Marco Rubio has recently seen a jump in his support, according to polls.
New Hampshire polling averages
A victory in New Hampshire revitalized Hillary Clinton's demoralized campaign in 2008. But this time, she's trailing Bernie Sanders, from neighboring Vermont. She's planning to head Sunday to Flint, Mich., where a cost-saving decision led to poisonous levels of lead in the water of the poor, heavily black, rust-belt city. 
56% 36%
Upcoming debates
Feb. 6: GOP debate

on ABC News, in Manchester, N.H.

Feb. 11: Democratic debate

on PBS, in Wisconsin

Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Campaign 2016
State of the race

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.