Full Transcript of Obama’s News Conference on Health Care
Published: November 14, 2013
(Page 4 of 10)
Do you not believe, sir, the American people deserve a deeper, more transparent accountability from you as to why you said that over and over when your own statistics published in the Federal Register alerted your policy staff -- and, I presume, you -- to the fact that millions of Americans would in fact probably fall into the very gap you’re trying to administratively fix now? That’s one question.
Obama Moves to Avert Cancellation of Insurance (November 15, 2013)
Second question. (Laughter.) You were informed or several people in this building were informed two weeks before the launch of the website that it was failing the most basic tests internally; and yet a decision was made to launch the website on October 1st. Did you, sir, make that test (sic)? And if so, did you regret that?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: OK. On the website, I was not informed directly that the website would not be working as -- the way it was supposed to. Has I been informed, I wouldn’t be going out saying, boy, this is going to be great. You know, I’m accused of a lot of things, but I don’t think I’m stupid enough to go around saying, this is going to be like shopping on Amazon or Travelocity, a week before the website opens, if I thought that it wasn’t going to work.
So, clearly, we and I did not have enough awareness about the problems in the website. Even a week into it, the thinking was that these were some glitches that would be fixed with patches, as opposed to some broader systemic problems that took much longer to fix and we’re still working on them.
So you know, that doesn’t excuse the fact that they just don’t work, but I think it’s fair to say, no, Major, we -- we would not have rolled out something knowing very well that it wasn’t going to work the way it was supposed to, given all the scrutiny that we knew was going to be on -- on the website.
With respect to the pledge I made that if you like your plan you can keep it, I think -- you know, and I’ve said in interviews -- that there is no doubt that the way I put that forward unequivocally ended up not being accurate. It was not because of my intention not to deliver on that commitment and that promise. We put a grandfather clause into the law but it was insufficient.
Keep in mind that the individual market accounts for 5 percent of the population. So when I said you can keep your health care, you know, I’m looking at folks who’ve got employer-based health care. I’m looking at folks who’ve got Medicare and Medicaid. And that accounts for the vast majority of Americans. And then for people who don’t have any health insurance at all, obviously that didn’t apply. My commitment to them was you were going to be able to get affordable health care for the first time.
You have an individual market that accounts for about 5 percent of the population. And our working assumption was -- my working assumption was that the majority of those folks would find better policies at lower cost or the same cost in the marketplaces and that there -- the universe of folks who potentially would not find a better deal in the marketplaces, the grandfather clause would work sufficiently for them. And it didn’t. And again, that’s on us, which is why we’re -- that’s on me.
And that’s why I’m trying to fix it. And as I said earlier, my -- I guess last week, and I will repeat, that’s something I deeply regret because it’s scary getting a cancelation notice.
Now, it is important to understand that out of that population, typically, there is constant churn in that market. You know, this market is not very stable and reliable for people. So people have a lot of complaints when they’re in that marketplace. As long as you’re healthy, things seem to be going pretty good. And so a lot of people think, I’ve got pretty good insurance, until they get sick, and then suddenly they look at the fine print and they’ve got a $50,000 out-of- pocket expense that they can’t pay.