Affordable Care Act Insider: Obama Kept Promise

Wednesday, 13 Nov 2013 10:26 PM

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He admits he's in the minority, but Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, one of the architects of Obamacare, maintains that the president kept his promise that people could keep their insurance if they like it.

Appearing Wednesday on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer," Emanuel pointed out that the "grandfather" rule applied to plans that did not change after the Affordable Care Act was passed in early 2010. President Barack Obama was referring to that when he made the pledge, even if people misunderstood him, he said.

"I thought that satisfied his pledge, and I still do," Emanuel said.

He admitted, however, that insurance companies regularly drop or change plans, and that it was unlikely that many people would have been allowed to keep a plan they like.

But he agreed with former President Bill Clinton that Obama should allow people to keep their old plans, saying that the "grandfather" clause needs to be redone because people "feel as if they were not told the truth."

Emanuel also addressed the low numbers of October enrollees released by the White House earlier in the day. The website enrolled fewer than 27,000 in the first month.

"They're low, but what do you expect when the website doesn't work and there hasn't been any publicity around it?" Emanuel said. "They haven't informed the public about the availability."

Emanuel said no one with experience with the health insurance industry and knowledge of e-commerce was put in charge. If someone with such experience had led the effort, the website would have been functional on time, he said.

"If these numbers remain, it's dismal," Blitzer told him. "It's not going to work."

Emanuel also appeared on MSNBC's "All in with Chris Hayes" and Fox News Channel's "The Kelly File."

The interview was contentious on Fox, with Emanuel challenging host Megyn Kelly's numbers that say 5 million people have had their current insurance plans cancelled.

"Only on Fox is it 5 million," Emanuel said. The number is closer to 3 million, he said.

When Kelly repeatedly pressed Emanuel over whether Obama foresaw the mass cancellations, Emanuel finally said the question was "irrelevant."

"Stop saying that," Kelly answered. "I think I know my viewers, and I think they think this is relevant."

The two finally agreed on one issue: if the website isn't fixed in time for those who have had policies cancelled to get new insurance by Jan. 1, it will be "a serious problem."

"If they don't get it done, then they really are in trouble," Emanuel said.









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