On Thursday, President Obama took to the White House podium to explain that he would be unilaterally allowing insurance companies to continue selling health insurance plans Americans liked and wanted to keep. Obamacare has already wiped away those plans, and will undoubtedly drive up rates in both the now-broken individual market and the high-risk pool of people likely to enter the Obamacare exchanges.
President Obama was half an hour late to his press conference, which was supposed to begin at 11:35 a.m. ET. During his comments, he never called Obamacare by that name; instead, he reverted to terming it the Affordable Care Act. “Today I want to update the American people on our efforts to implement and improve the Affordable Care Act,” Obama said.
From there, Obama turned to the horrendously low Obamacare enrollment numbers. He noted that 106,000 Americans had selected a health insurance plan. “Is that as high a number as we’d like?” Obama said. “Absolutely not. But it does mean that people want affordable healthcare.” After blaming the website again, Obama said, “there’s no question that there’s real demand for quality affordable health insurance.”
Later, when asked by National Journal‘s Major Garrett why he had continued to pump the website just one week before launch, and whether he had been informed about the technical problems, President Obama claimed ignorance. “I was not informed directly that the website was not working,” Obama said. “If I’d been informed, I wouldn’t have gone out and said ‘The website is going to be great.'” He added, “I don’t think I’m stupid enough” to compare the website to Amazon or Travelocity knowing it would fail.
President Obama would go on to admit that the website will not be fixed by the end of November. “This is very complicated,” Obama stated, admitting that he was “discovering” that buying insurance was not like buying a song on iTunes. “The website itself is doing a lot of stuff.” He continued, “The federal government has never been good at this in the past.”
President Obama continued by addressing the problem of millions of Americans in the individual insurance market losing their insurance. “As I indicated earlier, I completely get how upsetting this can be for lots of Americans particularly after assurances they heard from me that if they had a plan they could like, they could keep it,” Obama stated. “I hear you loud and clear…I said I would fix this problem, and today, I’m offering a plan that can help do it.” He added later regarding his lie about keeping personal plans, “The way I put that forward unequivocally ended up not being accurate.” He said he was “sincere,” as were other Democrats, when he made the promise.
Obama offered an administrative fix: allowing insurers to extend plans that had not been grandfathered in, and had in fact not met the Obamacare standards. As insurance company executives are already complaining that this no fix at all, given the fact that the plans have already been cancelled, would have to be reconstructed, and would jump in rate thanks to continued Obamacare regulation.
Obama then turned to blaming the insurance companies: “One of the things I understood when we decided to reform the health insurance market…is that anything that is going on that is tough in a health care market, if you’ve initiated a reform, can be attributed to your law. So what we want to do is to say to these folks that the Affordable Care Act is not going to be the reason why insurers have to cancel your plan. “
President Obama said that his administrative fix would not in fact fix the problem, but that he was willing to work with Congress, so long as Congress didn’t do anything substantive: “Doing more will require working with Congress…We can always make this law work better. It is important to understand thought that he old individual market was not working well. And it’s important that we not pretend that’s a place worth going back to… That’s why I won’t accept proposals that are a brazen attempt to undermine the overall law.”
Finally, under questioning from Garrett, Obama crumbled on his sinking credibility: “I think it’s fair for [Americans] to expect me to have to win back credibility,” he admitted. “That’s on me. We fumbled the rollout on this healthcare law.”
But he continued, “I am confident that by the time we look back on this next year, people are going to say it’s working well, and it’s helping an awful lot of people.” He stated, “We didn’t go far left…somebody, sooner or later, had to do it.”
Ben Shapiro is Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the New York Times bestseller “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America” (Threshold Editions, January 8, 2013). He is also Editor-in-Chief of TruthRevolt.org. Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.