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By CNN Chief Washington Correspondent Jake Tapper and Dan Donahue
Testifying on Capitol Hill Tuesday, the administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services – which rolled out the much-maligned website for the Affordable Care Act – said something Americans have not heard yet from anyone in the Obama administration.
"I want to apologize to you that the website has not worked as well as it should. We know how desperately you need affordable coverage," said CMS administrator Marilyn Tavenner.
But what about the people who want nothing to do with this website because they already have insurance they're happy with? Tavenner continued to say that Americans can keep plans they like, and Republicans hammered her for it.
She conceded that some people with individual health coverage – rather than the group coverage that most Americans have – will be forced to get new policies because of increased requirements under the 2010 Affordable Care Act.
It was a point Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Washington, took issue with at the hearing.
Tavenner: I am aware that there are issuers in states who are cancelling their old plans, for the grandfathered-in, and moving to new plans, which have to –
Reichert: So what you just said about keeping your health care plan isn't true.
Tavenner: No, they can keep it, the issue issuers chose to –
Reichert: No they can't keep it, they just got cancellation notices.
That point about keeping your health care plan is an important one, one oft repeated by the Obama administration.
"If you like your doctor you will be able to keep your doctor. Period," Obama said in a speech in Chicago in 2009. "If you like your healthcare plan, you will be able to keep your healthcare plan. Period."
But that never was the whole story. It was simply not credible that the Obama administration would make a number of sweeping changes to health insurance and everyone would still get to keep their health care plan and their doctor.
Back in 2010, the Obama administration vaguely acknowledged this by noting the high rate of turnover when it came to the 14 million individuals who have private insurance, as opposed to group plans.
Tucked in the federal register they noted the normal turnover rate for individual insurance is up to 67%, and that because of changes mandated to plans by Obamacare, turnover would likely exceed that range.
We haven't even mentioned the employers who are pushing workers off their plans and onto the Obamacare exchange because it's cheaper.
This doesn't sound like "if you like your plan you can keep your plan."
In fact, back in 2009, as a White House correspondent for ABC, CNN's Jake Tapper challenged the president on that, noting that some of the proposals being discussed might result in folks being forced into new plans against their wishes, asking, "What about keeping your promise to the American people that they won't have to change plans even if employers –"
"Well, no, no, I mean - when I say if you have your plan and you like it and your doctor has a plan, or you have a doctor and you like your doctor that you don't have to change plans, what I'm saying is the government is not going to make you change plans under health reform," Obama replied.
Ah ... the government is not going to make you change plans. Though the government might impose a situation that would cause a change of plans. So the promise was never quite as presented. And yet the president kept presenting it that way.
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