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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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November 15th, 2013
10:33 AM ET

Obamacare architect: You can't fix the broken insurance market, without some losing out

President Obama now says it is okay for people to keep their individual health insurance plans for another year. But he doesn't have the power to renew their policies.

One of the architects of the Affordable Care Act, economist and MIT professor Jonathan Gruber, called the president's fix "a good solution, because it takes pressure off the web failure, it gives people more time to sign up."

But Gruber defended the law as is, saying "the Affordable Care Act is the minimally disruptive way to get to where we need get in America, which is to fix our broken and discriminatory insurance markets."

"People in Congress didn't think it was good enough. They wanted to fix the broken insurance markets, and make sure no one lost. You can't do that," added Gruber.

"If you fix the broken insurance market, some people benefiting from the broken market have to pay more," said Gruber.

To be fair to members of Congress who have been objecting to the wrinkle in the law, the president repeatedly promised Americans that if they liked their plan, they can keep their plan, period.

"He absolutely should have been vaguer in his statement," said Gruber. "But the job of people in Congress, at least in my view, is not to worry about wordsmithing, but make the best possible policy."

When it comes to implementing a "nondiscriminatory insurance system ... people in Congress need to recognize it involves trade-offs," said Gruber.

The administration says that allowing individuals to keep their policies, even if they didn't meet the standards set by Obamacare, would undermine the law.

There are two bills addressing this politically potent problem with Obamacare in Congress at the moment. One House bill would allow those insurance plans to extend into next year and gut a major part of the law by allowing anyone to purchase them, even though the existing policies don't meet the tougher requirements of the Obamacare initiative.

A narrower bill introduced in the Senate would allow people who have individual insurance to keep their coverage. Insurers would have to notify those customers what minimum coverage requirements are not being met.

Gruber is against both of them.

"I believe that something like the Landrieu bill or Upton bill would have undermined Obamacare, because they're open-ended, so people can keep their plans forever," said Gruber. "What that would mean is rate shock in 2015 and ongoing problem of higher rates."

For more of this interview with economist Jonathan Gruber, check out the video above.

Filed under: World Lead
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