President Obama relented to pressure from the public and his own party Thursday and changed one of the bedrock requirements of the new health-care law to fulfill his promise to allow people to keep their insurance plans if they want.
While the move was aimed at solving a problem that was threatening the president’s credibility and public faith in the law, it raised a slew of new questions, including whether insurers would adjust, whether millions of customers would pay higher premiums and whether states would make the fix available.
The president made the change at a White House news conference that quickly turned from a specific policy announcement into a nearly hour-long deconstruction of broader flaws with the health-care law and Obama’s responsibility for its early failures.
The president was contrite, and his admissions were many – he conceded that he was left in the dark about aspects of the crowning achievement of his presidency, he acknowledged that he and his advisers underestimated how hard it would be to sell insurance over a Web site, he could not guarantee that the site would work well for everyone by the end of the month, he allowed that federal government rules were an impediment, and he lamented the political problems he caused for members of his party.
“There have been times where I thought we were slapped around a little bit unjustly. This one’s deserved, all right? It’s on us,” Obama said regarding the policy cancellation issue, which contradicted his repeated promises that people would be able to keep insurance plans they liked.