WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama says he’s giving Americans who’ve received cancellation notices from their insurers a one-year reprieve before they have to get new policies under his health-care law.
Obama said that while the “fumbled” rollout of the federal website for buying insurance and the cancellations of hundreds of thousands of individual policies has damaged his administration’s public image, he vowed to press ahead with implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
“I completely get how upsetting this can be for a lot of Americans, particularly after they heard assurances from me,” Obama said at the White House. “I’m not going to walk away” from the law, he said. “We’ve got to move forward on this.”
Obama is seeking to quell a potential revolt by Democrats facing re-election next year who have been urging the president to come up with a plan before the House votes on a Republican proposal that may come as early as tomorrow.
“Nobody is as unhappy as I am” about the rollout of of the law, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said before Obama spoke. Democrats in the House are in agreement that “we must have a fix.”
The administration will send a letter today instructing state insurance commissioners to notify insurers that they can continue the sale of canceled policies for an additional year, according to White House officials.
“It’s a good move in the right direction,” Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat co-sponsoring Senate legislation to make a similar fix, told reporters.
The extension will be available only to those already enrolled in the policies that were canceled because they didn’t meet coverage standards under the health-care law. The change will be effective for one year, until the end of 2014.
Insurance companies that extend their policies must notify consumers that alternatives exist under the health-care law, including options that may include tax credits, and are required to describe the ways that their plans don’t meet the consumer protections required under the law.