U.S. President Barack Obama is meeting with health insurance executives Friday, his latest effort aimed at rescuing the balky start-up of his signature health care reforms.
The White House has been faced with a barrage of complaints that millions of people are losing their insurance on New Year’s Day because of the new law, popularly known as Obamacare, even though Obama promised voters they could keep their policies if they wanted to.
Obama apologized on Thursday and gave insurance companies the right to renew for a year the health care policies they have canceled, even if they do not meet new national mandates for coverage of various medical procedures.
Obama, in an unusual admission, took full blame for the slow roll-out of the reforms. Millions of people staring at computers have been blocked when they attempted to buy insurance on a government Internet link.
”We did fumble the ball on it. And what I’m going to do is make sure that we get it fixed,” said President Obama.
The health insurance industry reacted coolly to Obama’s policy change on the expiring policies. It said that since insurance prices have already been set for 2014, renewing the old policies “could destabilize the market” and result in higher insurance premiums in the months ahead.
Obama’s policy shift came as the House of Representatives voted Friday to change the law even further. Its measure would give insurance companies the authority to sell the policies lacking the reform measures to new customers, as well as to renew those for customers whose policies have been canceled.
The bill’s fate in the Senate is uncertain, and the White House says Obama would veto it if it passes.