Facing growing opposition from his own party, President Obama today proposed a fix to a key component of his signature health care law, allowing Americans who are losing their coverage because of the Affordable Care Act to keep their plans for up to a year before being forced into coverage that meets the new standards.
"The bottom line is insurers can extend current plans, that would otherwise be canceled, into 2014," the president said in a hastily announced statement in the White House briefing room. "And Americans whose plans have been canceled can choose to re-enroll in the same kind of plan."
Six weeks into the botched rollout of the HealthCare.gov, the president admitted, "we fumbled the rollout on this health care law."
"We should have done a better job of getting that right on day one," he said.
Obama added, "I am confident that by the time we look back on this next year, that people are going to say, 'This is working well, and it's helping a lot of people.'"
Whether the president can make such an administrative fix without legislative involvement is unclear.
The president took responsibility as he sought to ease the concerns of people whose health care plans were canceled because they did not meet the new, higher standards of the law.
In selling the Affordable Care Act to the U.S. public, the president often used the same refrain: "If you like your plan, you can keep your plan."
"There is no doubt that the way I put that forward unequivocally ended up not being accurate," he said today. "It was not because of my intention not to deliver on that commitment and that promise.
"My expectation was that for 98 percent of the American people, either it genuinely wouldn't change at all, or they'd be pleasantly surprised with the options in the marketplace and that the grandfather clause would cover the rest," he said. "That proved not to be the case. And that's on me."
Today's announcement that consumers in the individual market will be able to keep their existing plans for another year comes amid growing opposition from Democrats over the canceled insurance policies, which the president had repeatedly said consumers could keep.
Lawmakers from both parties are gathering support for legislation that would make good on the president's promise that people who wanted to keep their plans could do so.
With millions of consumers receiving cancellation notices, however, the president has come under fire for his misleading comments.
Americans who purchase insurance on their own, a small portion of the population, might be forced to switch plans because their providers have made changes that don't meet the stiffer standards established under the Affordable Care Act.
Obama first apologized last week to Americans who are losing the health care coverage he said they could keep.
It also comes a day after the White House announced that only 26,794 people, a far smaller number than expected, successfully chose a health insurance plan using the glitch-plagued Healthcare.gov website in its first month.
In total, 106,185 people signed up for health insurance in October, and most of those individuals -- 79,391 -- used the 15 state-run websites, not the troubled federal site, the White House said Wednesday.