Facing pressure, Obama allows Americans to keep 2013 health plans

Posted by Anita Kumar on November 14, 2013 

US NEWS OBAMA-HEALTHCARE 1 ABA

President Barack Obama delivers a statement on the Affordable Care Act in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Nov. 14, 2013 in Washington, DC.

OLIVIER DOULIERY — MCT

President Barack Obama announced Thursday that he will allow insurance companies to continue offering existing individual plans even if they do not meet the standards set by his contentious new health care law.

Obama's decision comes after he faced bipartisan outrage following the cancellation of plans for millions of Americans.

His plan would allow insurance companies to extend their policies for one year only if they are already in existence. It would require insurance companies to notify customers that alternative policies might be available and that their benefits might be diminished with current plans.

Last week, Obama tried to quell growing bipartisan outrage by apologizing and pledging to find a way to allow those Americans to keep their insurance plans.

“I am deeply concerned about it,” he told NBC News. “And I’ve assigned my team to see what we can do to close some of the holes and gaps in the law.”

He directed his staff to look for an adminstrative fix -- one that could be accomplished without a vote for an often unfriendly, unproductive Congress -- with a focus on a small slice of the population who received cancellation notices because they purchased plans after 2010 when the health care law passed, but the plans did not meet the law’s standards. Their are being offered higher priced plans, but are struggling to afford them.

The White House continues to insist that the problem is limited to people who buy their own insurance or 11 million people, but a 2010 estimate from his administration indicates that as many as 69 percent of certain employer-based insurance plans -- or as many as 41 million people -- could lose their plans even if they wanted to keep them and would be forced into other plans.

House Democrats are facing a tough vote Friday that the White House believes goes too far in fixing the cancellation problem by allowing nex customers to buy 2013 plans.

“I am highly skeptical that they can do this administratively...There is no way to fix this," House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio said at a news conference.

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