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.

The president has repeatedly promised that people who are happy with their health plans would not have to change coverage because of the law, known as Obamacare.

But the termination of individual policies has given his Republican opponents additional ammunition to criticize the program they have tried to stop since its inception in Obama's first term.

Republicans' assertion that Obama had broken a major promise to the electorate is potentially more damaging than the glitch-ridden website rollout on Oct. 1.

Obama's approval rating hit a new low in a NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll issued on Wednesday, a result the pollsters attributed to multiple setbacks including the Obamacare problems.

The law requires insurers to offer a higher level of minimum coverage that includes maternity care and mental health treatment, among other benefits. Individuals who do not have policies that meet the new standards may see their coverage canceled at the end of the year, or may find that the monthly payments are beyond what they can afford.

Speaking in Boston, Obama said those who are getting dropped will be able to find new options through the online insurance exchanges, or marketplaces, established under the 2010 law.

"Just shop around in the new marketplace," he said. "You're going to get a better deal."

He also stressed that the law allows Americans to keep bare-bones plans created before the law was signed, as long as insurers did not change or cancel them.

"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.

America's Health Insurance Plans, the national trade group for health insurers, said the law requires coverage beyond what many people choose to purchase currently.

"Health plans want to keep customers," said group spokesman Robert Zirkelbach in a statement. In notices to customers about changes to their policies, he said, health plans were educating consumers about their options and helping them enroll in coverage "that's right for them."

'A BROKEN HEALTHCARE SYSTEM'

The law is the most sweeping new social program since the creation of Medicare and Medicaid in the 1960s.

It is intended to move the United States closer to the goal of universal care by using market-based mechanisms to deliver affordable insurance to less affluent families that have been priced out by decades of rising healthcare costs.

Obama said he would not allow the country to return to the previous system, which gave insurers wide latitude to refuse coverage to consumers that they did not deem profitable.

"I don't think we should go back to the daily cruelties and indignities and constant insecurity of a broken healthcare system," he said.

Technical woes, however, have prevented millions of Americans from exploring those options through the government's HealthCare.gov portal since it was unveiled.

On Capitol Hill, Obama's top health official called the debut a "debacle" as she sought to assure skeptical lawmakers at a congressional hearing that the administration would eventually get the portal to work smoothly.

HealthCare.gov was down over the course of the four-hour hearing.

"Hold me accountable for the debacle," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee.

"I told the president that we were ready to go. Clearly I was wrong," she said.

The security of the site was at "high risk" because of a lack of testing before it opened for enrollment, according to a government memorandum reviewed by Reuters.

Sebelius said HHS is conducting weekly security tests to ensure visitors are protected.

She has drawn intense criticism from Republicans, who have called for her or other senior officials to resign. She seemed to survive the high-profile hearing without further damage. A White House spokesman said after the hearing that Obama has "complete confidence" in Sebelius.

Republicans have sought to derail the healthcare overhaul since Obama took office in 2009, culminating in a 16-day government shutdown this month that has cost the U.S. economy an estimated $24 billion, according to Standard & Poor's ratings agency. Republicans say the program is an unwarranted expansion of the federal government.

The website's woes and insurance plan terminations have given Republicans more ammunition.

"For those who lose the coverage they like, they may also be losing faith in their government," said Michigan Representative Fred Upton, the Republican who oversaw the hearing.

Several Republican senators introduced legislation that would allow insurers to sell more plans that are not compliant with Obamacare. "One of two things is true here - either President Obama was being dishonest or he was disengaged once again," Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin said at a news conference.

Despite the drama, the public's assessment of Obamacare has shifted little over the past months. Gallup reported that 36 percent of Americans believe it will make healthcare in the United States better, while 44 percent think it will make things worse - essentially the same as surveys found in August and June.

But the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found Obama's rating fell to just 42 percent of Americans approving of his job performance, down 5 percentage points from earlier this month.

The pollsters attributed the decline to an accumulation of setbacks including allegations of spying by the National Security Agency, the recent government shutdown and the healthcare problems.

GROWING CONCERNS

The growing crisis surrounding Obama's signature legislative achievement could diminish his influence in Congress and threaten his other priorities like immigration reform signed into law in his remaining three years in office.

U.S. presidents have a limited time to enact their agenda in the second term before they start losing influence as lawmakers start worrying about re-election.

Obama spoke at Boston's historic Faneuil Hall, where in 2006 then-Governor Mitt Romney, a Republican, signed a state law that served as a model for Obama's health reforms.

Like Obamacare, that law had a rocky start - state officials delayed some aspects for several months, and the White House says only 123 people signed up in the first month it was available. By the end of the year-long enrollment period, 36,000 had signed up.

The Obama administration likewise expects "a very small number" of people to sign up initially for coverage, Sebelius said. Overall, U.S. officials hope 7 million people sign up in the first year.

The White House has declined to say how many Americans have enrolled so far. It also has asked states that run their own online healthcare exchanges to stop releasing their own data, according to Kevin Counihan, who runs Connecticut's health site.

"The White House is coordinating this stuff and trying to get states to report when they report - once a month," Counihan told reporters. "We'll do it every two weeks."

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Comments

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

where oh where

Where were all these people screaming about a web site that isn't working when Bush rolled out Medicare Part D? That wasn't pretty either. These are just very large programs. Anybody thinking that mess of a rollout would have justified getting rid of the program and people going back to choosing between their meds, their lunch and their heat again?

Bob White's picture

Hey sweet heart

That was years a go get over it. I'm guessing there was plenty of left wingers screaming back then kind of like your doing now years later. What's funny is Jay Carny telling the media stop picking on us something there not use to.

Eric  LeBlanc's picture

Anybody who believed this lying piece of garbage

Anybody who believed this lying piece of garbage is going to get what they deserve. As always the usual suspects are here defending the Jive Turkey in Chief regardless of what he says or does.

CAROLYN LIBBEY's picture

Ha, ha, ha. Obama's comedy

Ha, ha, ha. Obama's comedy routine really needs fine-tuning.

Bob White's picture

I will say Dennis your right

I will say Dennis your right it is always someone else's fault. Sure Claire and Jerry its just a web site BUT they had 3 years and over 680 billion dollars to build this site and they failed. If you hired a carpenter to build your house and he couldn't build he front door right would you want him to build the rest of your house? Now I know if the shoe was on the other foot you two would be slinging the same bulls@#t as the republicans are. Also maybe if the Democrats would have read what they were passing maybe there wouldn't be so much I told you so today. Wasn't it Pelosi that said we will read it after its passed?

So, uh, when was the last

So, uh, when was the last time you oversaw a massive web development project? You know how much it should have cost and how long it should have taken? Do you have any point of reference whatsoever to back up your claims that they had sufficient time an money for this thing? I am in the computer business, and I sure as hell can't say that two years was enough time for something this complex. There is always tweaking to do, always one more bug to find. They had less time to develop healthcare.org than Microsoft spent developing Windows 8 (and look at how craptastic THAT is) or the latest version of Office. Game developers spend more time (and money) developing hteir new games fromt he ground up.

What it tells me is that the people who made the law and set those time limits had no clue what it would really take. The time pressures to open the sire on the specified date were purely political, and the contractors were left with no choice but to make the best effort withing the framework they were given. It wasn't good enough.

Bob White's picture

More excuses

More excuses

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

No, you are the highly illiterate, misinformed chump as always

It is FACTS that he is providing...I developed a multifaceted software program for multiple purposes and functions for our 100 Agents in the field in combination to supplying data in the field coming in from Las Vegas to 5 states and documenting and reporting state prevailing wages and so much more. It took 5 years in the making with nearly 400 K to write code and test it daily with those using in the field. AND YES, there was hiccups, crashes and data issues.

I also redesigned our website with 75 pages that interfaced membership interaction and data exchange and it is not a simply matter when you are dealing with multiple areas of different data driven on accumulation of data in and data out.

So your simpleton mind set, and pure non concept is your excuse and nothing more since you are out of your league when it comes to website design and maintaining functionality. Or simply put your ignorance to only listening to a bunch of repubs/bagger media and representatives that are clueless just like yourself.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

WRONG AGAIN

Now I know if the shoe was on the other foot you two would be slinging the same bulls@#t as the republicans are.

I would be the first to say let it get fixed and get it done, WHY, because health care protection for all is a good thing, no matter what f'in party put it in place...That is where you again assume the wrong BS about how I would judge this program. You do it for party affiliation, PERIOD, I do it for the care and need to protect people from the out of control for years Insurance and Pharmaceutical companies which you seem it is ok to screw over people in need of affordable health care or get booted out due to pre or post existing conditions,.\

BTW you still haven't provided the so called LePage family that raised him that attended your shindig of banjo playing hoedown kissing cousins. Since she was dead it must of been difficult to get her to stand up for your get together, bagger party....LIAR....

Bob White's picture

Dumb Ass

Dumb Ass

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

You shouldn't

reference your wife like that, it gets her all waverly...or are you referencing on how she looks?

Bob White's picture

Hey old man

I didn't know LePage's family you made that comment to someone else you old fart. I think your full of s#@t. I will take back the billion but I will act like our president I don't know anything about it dah dah which way did they go..... Have you ever met a man that was the most powerful man in the world but doesn't have a clue on what's going on. Oh Jerry before you go and puff up your chest don't for get your many miles away so well you can figure it out...

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

118 plus 52 Mill for IT

Independently, the Sunlight Foundation estimated it cost $70 million to build the much-maligned website, not $634 million. (Officially, CGI was awarded a $93 million contract for the healthcare.gov job.)

And today in his Fact Checker column in the Washington Post, Glenn Kessler looked at the question of the healthcare.gov cost and concluded, "A conservative figure would be $70 million. A more modest figure would be $125 million to $150 million." Kessler noted that the cost for the entire health care project beyond the website would be "at least $350 million."

Despite those red flags, the bloated figure has been widely embraced as factual within the conservative press.

You see Booby you constantly lie and you lose any credibility, which you never had...

Facts hurt your tiny tiny mind and you should keep to your day job, milking ...

Bob White's picture

Sure go ahead and believe

Sure go ahead and believe that story Jerry. Those aren't the numbers the main stream media are using but I'm sure you know everything. Jerry getting your ass kicked by Paul sure has made you a angry person.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Actually SFB

the 118 and the 52 are the numbers the Sec of HHS reported to Congress....again facts elude you since you have no concept or ability of reading and listening to the truths but just fiction and lies....

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Moronic delusional assumptions are a sign of mental disease

In which you strongly have proven you have a case of.

The only Paul in my life that ever attempted to put his hands on me was my brother and he paid the heavy price of going to the ER. TWICE....

SO your make believe of your fantasy is the thing you hold in your hand every morning and play with that....that seems to be your capacity of dreaming up stories that excite you....

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

680 billion dollars

Billion??????

First off the house is built first and the doors go in last....You don't know crayola.

 's picture

There are so many good

There are so many good aspects to this law. There are also many many parts that are blatantly over reaching. I don t think he lied.....I just don t think he is familiar with the actual written law. . He delivered a speech prepared by others.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

It's a website

So far this week I have been kicked off this website 5 times and off Netflix once and off two shopping sites. College students all over the country are in a dither because their applications are being kicked off those websites. It happens. Republicans are tickled pink that people are having trouble getting on. Kind of tells you something about them ! Nothing makes them happier than someone else's grief. Their joy will be short lived and people will get the health insurance they need.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Claire ? uh huh •  This is

Claire ? uh huh •  This is probably why ---> 13:40 13.10.31
Adobe Software Breach Update This Breach Alert is sent to you as a part of your Fraud Protection Services
What Happened ? At the beginning of October, Adobe reported that 2.9 million Adobe users were affected by a data breach. Adobe immediately notified those users and encouraged them to change their passwords. Now, a month after the initial breach, according to news reports from Yahoo News, PCAdvisor and NetworkWorld, the number of affected active users has risen to 38 million. What's more, 150 million user names and encrypted passwords were found on a website for all to see.
As for insurance ? i'll sell you some ( not you ) . Republicans need only apply . Send me $US19.99 first to Steve Dosh , 13-3455 Kaupili st , Pahoa HI 96778 us of a
Small bills only please ;)
http://www.healthcare.gov works for us
We are in Hawai'i . Maine has decided to get their own thing ,( your i.e. Gov. Paul LePage )
If it does not work for you Mainers complain to him , please
~ Happy Halloween ~
/s Dr. Dosh

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Amazing

For the reality check for those to remember in years past we got things done without a website when they did not exist for this type of consumer interaction. Just like when we didn't have cell phones and we still got the business at hand completed for Medicare, Social Security or other services too.

This is how for 2 years in Okinawa I performed my job to communicate with Wash DC and CINCPAC and assisted in curtailmment of the sinking of three North Korean gunboats in 74'

Perforated paper tape ASCII coded teletypes.

It appears that we all forget where we came from and the US still survived it's follies.

Have you ever noticed how its

Have you ever noticed how its always someone elses fault with this guy?

Steve  Dosh's picture

Dennis ? A: No ~ Happy

Dennis ? A: No ~ Happy Halloween ~ /s Steve :D

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