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Obama Announces Fix for 'Fumbled' Health Care Implementation


Moving to avert still more political damage from what he acknowledges was a "fumbled" implementation of his health care law, President Barack Obama on Thursday announced a fix to allow Americans to keep existing policies for one year.

Obama's decision came amid mounting political fallout from the flawed federal government website that Americans use, along with online state insurance marketplaces, to enroll in plans under Obamacare.

Just over 106,000 people enrolled since November 1, far below what the administration had hoped.

Obama acknowledged the frustration of Americans, potentially numbering in the millions, who received cancellation notices for policies that did not meet Obamacare standards.

"I think it is legitimate for them to expect me to have to win back some credibility on this health care law in particular and on a whole range of these issues in general. That's on me. We fumbled the rollout on this health care law," said President Obama.

The administrative fix announced by Obama would let insurers renew for one year health plans that were canceled because of the implementation of Obamacare.

Companies could offer plans next year that do not meet minimum requirements but would have to inform applicants how these are deficient and what alternatives are available.

Obama said it would be up to insurance commissioners in individual U.S. states to allow the fix to proceed, saying Obamacare would not "get in the way" of companies implementing the change.

With Obama already facing the lowest public approval ratings of his presidency, there are new signs of political damage, as Americans raise questions about administration competence.

A Gallup poll showed 55 percent of respondents disapproving of Obamacare. Previous surveys showed Americans generally divided on the law, though leaning toward disapproval.

Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner says poor enrollment numbers show that Obama's health care law has failed and should be scrapped.

"When it comes to this health care law, the White House does not have much credibility. Let's be clear, the only way to fully protect the American people is to scrap this law once and for all. There is no way to fix this," said Boehner.

Republicans controlling the House plan on Friday to bring to a vote their own fix. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says the Republican measure would endanger Obamacare.

"It undermines the Affordable Care Act," said Pelosi.

President Obama also acknowledged potential damage for Democratic congressional candidates in next year's mid-term elections.

"There is no doubt that our failure to roll out the Affordable Care Act smoothly has put a burden on Democrats, whether they are running or not, because they stood up and supported this effort through thick and thin," said Obama.

Obama says he feels "personally responsible" for making the job of Democrats harder. But he said people should not lose sight of the fact that before Obamacare, the U.S. health care system status quo was "not working at all."

He again criticized Republicans for failing to provide an alternative either to the existing health insurance system or to Obamacare, which was designed to provide affordable coverage for some 40 million Americans who lacked insurance.
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