Dan Pfeiffer: Obama Didn't Intend to Break Promise

Sunday, 03 Nov 2013 01:25 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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President Barack Obama never planned in advance to break his promise about allowing Americans to keep their healthcare plans if they didn't want to switch to Obamacare, his top strategist Dan Pfeiffer insists.

"If the president didn't intend to keep this promise, why would he have gone out of his way to put a provision in the law that specifically says that if you have a plan before Obamacare passed you can keep that plan?" Pfeiffer told ABC "This Week" host George Stephanopoulos Sunday.

His answer was in response to a Stephanopoulos question about a Wall Street Journal story  Saturday that reported a former senior administration official's claims that White House policy advisers objected to Obama's repeated promises that Americans can keep their insurance plans.

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But Pfeiffer said that he did not recollect that happening.

"But if the president were to allow people to have those [insurance] plans be downgraded, or insurance companies to keep selling barebones plans, he'd be violating an even more important promise to the American people, that everyone would have a guarantee to access of quality affordable health insurance," Pfeiffer said.

He insisted that most people will be able to get a better insurance plan for the same amount that their old policies cost, or even less.

"And many of these plans were cut-rate plans that didn't cover hospitalization or doctor's visits," he said.

Stephanopoulos, though, argued it "still doesn't meet the literal promise the president made."

But Pfeiffer insisted he doesn't "recall the debate" about the president's statements about keeping insurance, but "here's the point, is that – is that if you had a plan before the Affordable Care Act passed, it hasn't been changed or canceled, you can keep it."
Pfeiffer also said that while the president's poll approval rating is only at 42 percent, Obama's concern isn't about his political standing.

"It's getting this website working so that millions of Americans have access to quality affordable health insurance," said Pfeiffer. "If we do that, everything else will take care of itself politically."

Pfeiffer admitted that the failures on Healthcare.gov http://www.healthcare.gov are "inexcusable and we own that," and "as a president, that's on him. We have to fix it."

Pfeiffer said that the first enrollment numbers on the website aren't "what we want them to be" because of the website problems, but "we take responsibility for that, take responsibility for the errors, take responsibility for fixing it."

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