WASHINGTON (AP) — Bowing to pressure, President Barack Obama on Thursday announced changes to his health care law to give insurance companies the option to keep offering consumers plans that would otherwise be canceled.
The administrative changes are good for just one year, though senior administration officials said they could be extended if problems with the law persist. Obama announced the changes at the White House.
“This fix won’t solve every problem for every person, but it’s going to help a lot of people,” the president said.
He acknowledged that “we fumbled the rollout of this health care law” and pledged to “just keep on chipping away at this until the job is done.”
He also promised to work to regain the trust of the American people.
“I think it’s legitimate for them to expect me to have to win back some credibility on this health care law in particular and on a whole range of these issues in general,” he said.
Obama has been under enormous pressure from congressional Democrats to give ground on the cancellation issue under the health care overhaul, a program likely to be at the center of next year’s midterm elections for control of the House and Senate.
However, state insurance commissioners are voicing serious concerns about President Obama’s plan to stave off cancellations for people whose individual policies don’t comply with the new health care law.
In a statement Thursday, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners said the president’s decision could undermine the new insurance markets being created under his overhaul law.
Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon, president of the group, said Obama’s proposal could lead to higher premiums and market disruptions next year and beyond. It may also be unworkable as a practical matter.