President Barack Obama announced on Thursday that insurance plans that would have been canceled under the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, will be allowed to continue for at least one more year. The move was widely perceived as the president’s caving to political pressure, including from a growing number of Democrats, who had said Obama should honor his pledge that Americans could keep their health insurance plans if they chose.
Minnesota officials said they were working with the federal government to decide how best to implement the president’s executive order.
Obama expressed frustration and contrition during his Thursday press conference, saying his administration had “fumbled” the rollout of health care reform. That term applied both to technological mistakes and website glitches that affected consumers trying to access the Healthcare.gov site, as well as the apparently misleading claim that consumers would not be faced with losing their insurance plans. In fact, plans that do not meet minimum coverage standards set under the Affordable Care Act would have needed to change beginning next year, often at an increased cost to consumers.
The number of Americans affected by the new standards numbered in the millions, including an estimated 140,000 consumers in Minnesota. Reports indicating the required changes unnerved some moderate and potentially vulnerable Democrats, many of whom called for Obama to retreat or delay the forced policy changes. The news was also highlighted by Republicans throughout the country. In Minnesota, GOP U.S. Senate candidate Mike McFadden‘s campaign had produced videos featuring statements from DFL U.S. Sen. Al Franken, who had also said Americans would not be forced to change their insurance under Obamacare.
Gov. Mark Dayton had joined the chorus of Democrats calling on Obama to let people keep their existing coverage, and greeted yesterday’s news as a welcome development. In a statement released shortly after the president’s press conference, Dayton said the decision would benefit consumers shopping on MNsure, the state-run health insurance exchange, which began its open enrollment period on Oct. 1.
“The President deserves great credit for keeping his promise to the American people,” Dayton said. “This will also provide time for those affected to compare policies on MNsure for options with better coverage at better prices.”
Dayton added that the Department of Commerce and MNsure were working to analyze and enact the president’s executive order, with more details to be provided soon.