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Obama says he's sorry Americans are losing insurance

By Julie Pace

AP White House Correspondent

LAST UPDATED: 06:12 a.m. HST, Nov 08, 2013

WASHINGTON >> Bowing to intense criticism, President Barack Obama apologized to Americans who are losing health insurance plans he had repeatedly said they could keep and pledged to find fixes that might allow people to keep their coverage.

"I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me," he said in an interview Thursday with NBC News.

He added: "We've got to work hard to make sure that they know we hear them, and we are going to do everything we can to deal with folks who find themselves in a tough position as a consequence of this."

Officials said the president was referring to fixes his administration could make on its own, not legislative options proposed by congressional lawmakers.

The president's apology comes as the White House tries to combat a cascade of troubles surrounding the rollout of the health care law, often referred to as "Obamacare."

The HealthCare.gov website that was supposed to be an easy portal for Americans to use to purchase insurance has been hobbled by technical issues. And with at least 3.5 million Americans receiving cancellation notices from their insurance companies, there's new scrutiny aimed at the way the president tried to sell the law to the public in the first place.

Obama stopped short in Thursday's interview of apologizing for telling Americans they would be able to keep their insurance plans if they liked them -- a promise he has made repeatedly since the law was enacted. But he did take broader responsibility for the health care woes than in his previous comments about the flawed rollout, declaring that if the law isn't working, "it's my job to get it fixed."

"When you've got a health care rollout that is as important to the country and to me as this is and it doesn't work like a charm, that's my fault," he said.

Some Republicans, who remain fierce opponents of the law three years after it won congressional approval, appeared unmoved by Obama's mea culpa.

"If the president is truly sorry for breaking his promises to the American people, he'll do more than just issue a halfhearted apology on TV," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in a statement.

House Speaker John Boehner's office said the Ohio Republican was "highly skeptical" that the president could take administrative action to ensure that Americans could keep their health plans.

"That's why he should work with Congress and support bipartisan legislation that fulfills his promise and allows insurance companies to continue offering the plans that so many Americans like and can afford," said Brendan Buck, a Boehner spokesman.

In recent days, focus has intensified on the president's promise that Americans who liked their insurance coverage would be able to keep it. He repeated the line often, both as the bill was being debated in Congress and after it was signed into law.

But the health care law itself made that promise almost impossible to keep. It mandated that insurance coverage must meet certain standards and that policies falling short of those standards would no longer be valid except through a grandfathering process, meaning some policies were always expected to disappear.

The White House says under those guidelines, fewer than 5 percent of Americans will have to change their coverage. But in a nation of more than 300 million people, 5 percent is about 15 million people.

Officials argue that those forced to change plans will end up with better coverage and that subsidies offered by the government will help offset any increased costs.

"We weren't as clear as we needed to be in terms of the changes that were taking place," Obama told NBC. "And I want to do everything we can to make sure that people are finding themselves in a good position, a better position than they were before this law happened."

The president's critics have accused him of misleading the public about changes that were coming under the law, which remains unpopular with many Americans.

Obama dismissed those accusations, saying the White House was operating in "good faith." He acknowledged that the administration "didn't do a good enough job in terms of how we crafted the law" but did not specify what changes his administration might make.

The White House has not formally taken a position on a variety of proposals from Congress to address issues that have arisen since the insurance sign-ups launched on Oct. 1.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., has proposed requiring insurance companies to reinstate canceled plans, and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is supporting a measure to delay for a year the penalties for going without insurance. Another Democrat, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, is asking Obama to extend the open enrollment period for insurance exchanges because of the widespread problems with the website.

On Wednesday, Obama met at the White House with Senate Democrats facing re-election next year to try to ease their concerns about the impact the rough health care rollout might have on their races. Many senators in the meeting asked for the enrollment period to be extended beyond the March 31 end point, but the White House said it doesn't think that will be necessary.

"Keep in mind that the open enrollment period, the period during which you can buy health insurance is available all the way until March 31," Obama said. "And we're only five weeks into it."


Associated Press writers Jim Kuhnhenn and Josh Lederman contributed to this report.

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Dolphin743 wrote:
"Sorry" implies that he didn't intend to have people kicked off their insurance plans. Since it's passage, Obamacare has always guaranteed that this would happen, and Obama has been aware of it for three years. Today's spin is just one more lie added to the pile. Does anybody still believe anything he says?
on November 7,2013 | 01:04PM
retire wrote:
"Sorry" he got caught lying, like the presidents that have gone before him.
on November 7,2013 | 01:24PM
pakeheat wrote:
Blame it on GW Bush, LOL
on November 7,2013 | 03:28PM
Ronin006 wrote:
Right, and he also is sorry union so-called Cadillac health plans would be taxed under Obamacare, so Obama worked out a secret deal to appease union leaders who helped get him re-elected by having taxpayers subsidies those plans to the tune of about $600 million. This is breaking news. You will read and hear more about it in the next few days.
on November 7,2013 | 04:05PM
thepartyfirst wrote:
I am sorry for voting for him...................twice!
on November 8,2013 | 06:29AM
cojef wrote:
Yes, many did and that is how he got re-elected, meaning by lying. Hoodwinked the electorate. He is radical liberal and his true intent is to have single payer health insurance system which is socialistic. A communist remarked that having a universal health insurance system will enable the "party" to control the masses. Meaning the "party" will determine what is best for you. Simply, the party elites will govern your every day life.
on November 8,2013 | 08:33AM
meat wrote:
He's "sorry", for the "situation" their in, but NOT sorry for LYING to the people over and over and over again.
on November 7,2013 | 09:10PM
Ronin006 wrote:
Lying to Congress is a felony, the President lying to the American people is, well, just politics. This is how democrats will spin it.
on November 8,2013 | 07:50AM
serious wrote:
The quote from Nancy Pelosi, "Let's pass it and see what it looks like." Was interpreted by a doctor---"That's how we check stool samples."
on November 8,2013 | 08:37AM
Hapa_Haole_Boy wrote:
Liar in Chief. Commander in Thief.
on November 7,2013 | 01:32PM
atilter wrote:
okay - i might have used words that were too highly charged and might be mis-construed. for that i apologize.
on November 7,2013 | 01:46PM
Skyler wrote:
You're apologizing to a bot. IOW, no need.
on November 7,2013 | 09:46PM
syhud wrote:
What we have here is one smooth slick talking president. But watch his shifty eyes! Dead give away.
on November 7,2013 | 01:57PM
South76 wrote:
I hope everyone knows that he's a trained attorney...like all attorneys they will defend their client/case no matter how guilty/wrong their party may be...the American electorate has been hoodwinked by a snake oil salesman....watch out, Hilary, also a trained lawyer, is already digging a hole to hide the truth about the Benghazi event as she prepares to run for the oval office in 2016. Just remember what lawyers do...defend their case no matter how moronic it may be.
on November 8,2013 | 10:07AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Why doesn't he repeat that "I am as upset as you" remark again? Yeah, sure, he's as upset as a middle age guy with kids who lost his coverage and is scared of what happens next because that goat rope of a program was so botched. Liar.
on November 7,2013 | 02:05PM
Charliegrunt wrote:
Sorry!? How gullible does BO think the majority of us are? He's sorry that so many have found out how incompetent he is, and how little he cares about the citizenry. He is not only a joke to Americans, but the whole world. Unfortunately, he is not the only president to take advantage of us. Have the young who are healthy and need little care pay for those of us who are makule and need more care? Give me a break! What happened to all the money we makule have paid into social security, medicare, etc.? Remember how LBJ used social security funds so that the national debt would not look so bad? Remember how each administration has been tapping into that fund without any repayment? Why are we giving immigrants free medical care, food stamps, free housing, etc.? Those who came before them got nothing, but the promise of opportunity. Let's stop this debacle and vote all his supporters out. Hopefully, the Republicans will get their act together and provide us some viable candidates.
on November 7,2013 | 02:08PM
serious wrote:
Charliefrunt, listen if you keep growling like that HE's going to stomp his foot and go on AF ONE at $180,000 an hour and campaign!! Sorry is right, he's the sorriest President we've ever had. He's never in the WH, I wonder if he has cabinet meetings?? His staff is minorities who never had a job except in the public sector!!!
on November 7,2013 | 02:22PM
MizuInOz wrote:
Hmmmm... Now you know why he doesn't know about anything that is going on in his office... too busy campaigning. Doesn't he know that he is a lame duck? Can't be re-elected. He needs to buckle down and get to work. This is why he doesn't have a clue about what is going on with No Such Address and anything else that really is his responsibility. Anyone remember the motto of the President who came into office after FDR died. Yep - "the buck stops here." Too bad that doesn't seem to apply anymore. Plausible deniability is the motto now. Sorry state of affairs.
on November 7,2013 | 04:13PM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
His staff are MINORITIES. Lol. Who never worked except for the PUBLIC DOLE. Lol. Are minoriities, non- whites? Just wondering.
on November 8,2013 | 11:35AM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
Hopefully the Republicans will get their act together. Lol. Hopefully, lol.
on November 8,2013 | 11:32AM
RandolphW wrote:
President Obama says he is going to see what his administration can do about these inevitable events of actually losing health insurance coverage as a direct result of the Affordable Healthcare Act. This will surely add more costs to the AHC Act. Even President Obama doesn't have a grasp of the total tab to the taxpayers.
on November 7,2013 | 02:17PM
Hawaiianhaole wrote:
Looks like we are going to have more uninsured than we did before Obamacare. When the 15 million become insured after all the penalty's that the Government will impose on them you will see one more spin from this LIAR he will claim what a success Obamacare is. Who in their right mind could have voted for him. Where are all the Obama supporters know.
on November 7,2013 | 02:31PM
SteveToo wrote:
The man's really in way over his head. He should resign like Nixon did and let Joe take over. Shoots he couldn't do worse could he????? LOL
on November 7,2013 | 02:36PM
Maipono wrote:
Funny how the smartest man in the world has to say he's sorry for not postponing Obamadon'tcare like the Tea Party Patriots wanted him to. Now it looks like he is going to have to delay the roll out. Not a good time for his supporters and a terrible time for all of America.
on November 7,2013 | 03:16PM
Jerry_D wrote:
Obuma is just a sorry excuse for a president. Period. Why he hasn't been removed from office with the same speed and vigilance he's been removing top military commanders from their posts? I don't know...
on November 7,2013 | 03:29PM
iy808 wrote:
Good job voting for Obama AGAIN Hawaii
on November 7,2013 | 03:33PM
awahana wrote:
Yet we keep sending our kids to Punahou for $21k/year...
on November 7,2013 | 04:19PM
islandsun wrote:
Lots of talk but how about some substance. Obamacare has been set up and run poorly and why couldn't people keep their existing plans. You know how hard it is to finally come across a plan that works for you only to have it disappear for a worse plan. Equal or better should have been the goal for federal guidelines.
on November 7,2013 | 05:49PM
MizuInOz wrote:
Obviously, you are not from the same USofA that I am from. Federal guidelines and equal or better are oxymorons. Just saying.
on November 7,2013 | 08:42PM
Skyler wrote:
How do you apologize? "I'm sorry YOU?" No. "It's I'm sorry I..." He sounds like a certain "Hawaiian" saying they were 'sorry that others got offended' - it's NOT an apology.
on November 7,2013 | 09:44PM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
Certain Hawaiian? Hmmm. Your not a minority, right.
on November 8,2013 | 11:38AM
hikine wrote:
He pushed for this law and all he can say is 'SORRY'? I don't think he knew the ramifications of his own ACA! Democrats pushed for this ACA and looks like they have to clean pies off their faces!
on November 8,2013 | 03:28AM
kispest wrote:
He is not sorry. Every time his lips are moving, he is lieing.
on November 8,2013 | 05:48AM
Publicbraddah wrote:
I think Republicans are breathing a sigh of relief. Just when all the ire was on them for the federal shutdown, along comes Obamacare to take a lot of the heat away from them. Dems will attack the fed shutdown and Repubs will attack Obamacare come next election. It's that obvious.
on November 8,2013 | 05:57AM
Pacej001 wrote:
Uh, what shutdown? After the Obamacare roll out mess and the probable continuation of unsettling news as the impact of the law is felt, few will even remember the shutdown and the ones that do will be forced to deal with the fact that the shutdown was an attempt to force a delay in in Obamacare.
on November 8,2013 | 06:05AM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
Christie looks like a walking heart attack. He will be a perfect example on how Americans should not look like. He will be a perfect example on why American healthcare cost is skyrocketing. You believe he will attack healthcare? Lol. Remember this candidate has gastric bypass, but his addiction to American fast food failed. So, instead of secret service ,have a team of cardiologist follow his motorcade.
on November 8,2013 | 11:52AM
Publicbraddah wrote:
The dysfunctionality of Congress is showcased once again. To pass something as complex as ACA without knowing its full ramifications is irresponsible. It's bad enough that the online app doesn't work but when Obama clearly states that we can keep our present plan if we want to and that is a total lie, who can the American people trust anymore? Certainly not our elected officials. I'd be embarrassed to call myself a representative on the American public.
on November 8,2013 | 06:01AM
cojef wrote:
The majority leaders of the Senate and House both, by partisan votes passed the ACA without having read the bill. The debacle is now being layed entirely at the footsteps of the White House. Yet, this 2 scoundrels are whistling just as the did not contribute to the mess that is unfolding. Of course, they did not read the bill, but they knew that both the Senate and the House members and their staffs were exempted from the ACA. Now that there are movements to have them included, they have accepted the "fair play rule" and agreed the be included with still another "catch", they will recieve a subsidy for the their insurance costs. Crooked to core!!!!!!!!
on November 8,2013 | 08:56AM
AhiPoke wrote:
He really should blame bush for this. After all, he probably only found out about these problems yesterday when he read about it in the newspaper so why should he take responsibility.
on November 8,2013 | 08:53AM
Bdpapa wrote:
Sorry! I'm sorry for voting for him the first time!
on November 8,2013 | 08:54AM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
Lol,papa a stauch GOP said he voted for Obama twice. Apologize
on November 8,2013 | 11:41AM
walrus808 wrote:
That's the reason the employer mandate has been put on hold for a year. Midterm elections are coming up and the dems are already in trouble with the 4 million who have lost their plans. He delayed it because tens of millions stand to lose their healthcare and he's known that all along. What were we all saying during the Bush years "Bush lied and people died", guess he's really not the messiah after all.
on November 8,2013 | 09:13AM
South76 wrote:
Like all lawyers, they will defend their case no matter how moronic it may be.
on November 8,2013 | 10:09AM
South76 wrote:
on November 8,2013 | 10:13AM
GorillaSmith wrote:
I hope the imbeciles who voted for this boob are enjoying the damage he's done to our beloved country.
on November 8,2013 | 11:38AM
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