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CBS: Obama's 'Patch' of Insurance Cancellations 'Fell Flat'; 'Created Another Mess'

Major Garrett pointed out on Friday's CBS This Morning that the politician's Thursday "attempt to fix the problem of canceled insurance policies...fell flat", as it failed to satisfy his Democratic allies in Congress, who are nervous about the next election. Garrett devoted much of his report on the morning newscast, as well on Thursday's CBS Evening News, to his hard-hitting questioning of the politician, where he hounded the politician over the ObamaCare debacle.

The journalist also underscored that "many state insurance commissioners...[are] unlikely to enforce the President's new policy". He also spotlighted an insurance industry expert's stinging assessment of this supposed fix: [MP3 audio available here; video below]

ROBERT LASZEWSKI, HEALTH POLICY AND STRATEGY ASSOCIATES PRESIDENT: I have no idea who is advising this President in how the insurance market works. But they've just created another mess here, on top of all the other messes they've created.

Garrett wasted little time before playing a clip of the President's "now-infamous" promise to the American people – that "if you like your insurance plan, you will keep it". He continued that Obama's Thursday proposal to "give consumers with canceled individual insurance policies a chance to get them back....will not be easy."

The CBS correspondent then played his soundbite of Laszewski, and added that "some Democrats said the so-called ObamaCare patch fell short, since it's only a one-year fix". He spent the rest of the segment with two extended excerpts from the White House press conference, where Garrett confronted the Democrat over his administration's beyond botched handling of the health care issue:

MAJOR GARRETT (voice-over): CBS News asked the President why he promised people could keep their plans in the first place.

GARRETT (on-camera, from White House press conference): 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?

OBAMA: There is no doubt that the way I put that forward unequivocally ended up not being accurate. That's something I deeply regret, because it's scary getting a cancellation notice.

GARRETT (voice-over): We also asked the President if he knew, two weeks before launch, the federal health care website was a mess.

GARRETT (on-camera): 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 1. Did you, sir, make that test (sic), and if so, did you regret that?

OBAMA: Okay. On the website, I was not informed directly – that the website would not be working the way it was supposed to.

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.

During his CBS Evening News report on Thursday, the journalist included a third question from the presser, where he wondered about another less-than-honest answer from the President:

GARRETT (voice-over): The President then referred to ObamaCare's so-called grandfather clause, which allowed consumers to keep their policies unless insurance companies made a significant change.

OBAMA(from White House press conference): My working assumption was that the majority of those folks would find better policies at lower costs, or the same costs in the marketplaces. And that 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. That's something I deeply regret, because it's scary getting a cancellation notice.

GARRETT (on-camera): Did you decide, sir, that simple declaration was something the American people could handle, but this nuanced answer you just gave now was something that you couldn't handle, and you didn't trust the American people with the fuller truth?

OBAMA: No. My expectation was that for 98 percent of the American people – either it genuinely wouldn't change at all; or they'd be pleasantly surprised with the options in the marketplace, and that the grandfather clause would cover the rest. That proved not to be the case, and that's on me.

The full transcripts of Major Garrett's reports on Thursday's CBS Evening News and Friday's CBS This Morning:

11/14/2013
06:31 pm EST
CBS Evening News

SCOTT PELLEY: President Obama set out to fix a broken promise today. He's always said that ObamaCare would never force Americans to give up a health insurance policy they liked. But then, insurance companies started canceling nearly five million policies, because those policies don't meet the higher standards of the Affordable Care Act. The outcry has been getting louder by the day.

Here was the President on this day.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA (from White House press conference): I completely get how upsetting this can be for a lot of Americans, particularly after assurances they heard from me that if they had a plan that they liked, they could keep it. And to those Americans, I hear you loud and clear. I said that I would do everything we can to fix this problem. And today, I'm offering an idea that will help do it.

PELLEY: And with that, he announced a reversal. He will now allow insurance companies to reinstate those canceled policies, at least for one year. Mr. Obama also took the hit today for the failed rollout of his health insurance website.

Chief White House correspondent Major Garrett made news when he asked the President whether he knew about the trouble ahead.

MAJOR GARRETT (from White House press conference): 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 1. Did you regret that?

OBAMA: On the website, I was not informed directly that the website would not be working as – the way it was supposed to. Had 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.

GARRETT (voice-over): We also asked how the President could make this promise while promoting the health care law.

OBAMA (from April 1, 2010 speech): If you like your insurance plan, you will keep it. No one will be able to take that away from you. It hasn't happened yet; it won't happen in the future.

GARRETT (on-camera, from White House press conference): 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?

OBAMA: There is no doubt that the way I put that forward unequivocally ended up not being accurate.

GARRETT (voice-over): The President then referred to ObamaCare's so-called grandfather clause, which allowed consumers to keep their policies unless insurance companies made a significant change.

OBAMA: My working assumption was that the majority of those folks would find better policies at lower costs, or the same costs in the marketplaces. And that 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. That's something I deeply regret, because it's scary getting a cancellation notice.

GARRETT: Did you decide, sir, that simple declaration was something the American people could handle, but this nuanced answer you just gave now was something that you couldn't handle, and you didn't trust the American people with the fuller truth?

OBAMA: No. My expectation was that for 98 percent of the American people – either it genuinely wouldn't change at all; or they'd be pleasantly surprised with the options in the marketplace, and that the grandfather clause would cover the rest. That proved not to be the case, and that's on me.

GARRETT (live): The President said HealthCare.gov will work for most consumers by the end of the year – by the end of this month, rather. But he would not guarantee that the website would work smoothly for everyone all the time. It will work better than it did on October 1, the President said, noting somewhat sarcastically, Scott – quote, 'That's a pretty low bar.'

PELLEY: Major Garrett at the White House – Major, thank you.


11/15/2013
07:02 am EST
CBS This Morning

CHARLIE ROSE: President Obama says he fumbled the rollout of his health care law, and he deserves to be criticized. The President offered an apology yesterday, along with a plan to fix one of the biggest ObamaCare problems: millions of insurance policies are being canceled because they do not meet the new law's requirements.

NORAH O'DONNELL: But the President's proposal is no guarantee to policyholders, and some observers argue he's making a serious problem worse.

Major Garrett is at the White House. Major, good morning.

MAJOR GARRETT: Well, good morning, Norah and Charlie. The President's repeated apologies were designed to take the political heat off of House and Senate Democrats facing reelection and the consequences of ObamaCare next year. The President's attempt to fix the problem of canceled insurance policies, however, fell flat amongst some of those Democrats, angered Republicans, and left the insurance industry perplexed.

[CBS News Graphic: "'We Fumbled The Rollout': President Offers Reprieve On Cancellations"]

GARRETT (voice-over): Under fire from congressional Democrats to back up his now-infamous promise-

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: If you like your insurance plan, you will keep it.
            
GARRETT: President Obama announced he would give consumers with canceled individual insurance policies a chance to get them back.

OBAMA (from White House press conference): The bottom line is, insurers can extend current plans that would otherwise be canceled into 2014, and Americans whose plans have been canceled can choose to re-enroll in the same kind of plan.

GARRETT: This will not be easy. Insurance companies will have about 30 days to contact millions of consumers whose policies have been canceled, give them new options, and recalculate all their insurance premiums.

ROBERT LASZEWSKI, HEALTH POLICY AND STRATEGY ASSOCIATES PRESIDENT: I have no idea who is advising this President in how the insurance market works. But they've just created another mess here, on top of all the other messes they've created.

GARRETT: Some Democrats said the so-called ObamaCare patch fell short, since it's only a one-year fix.

SEN. MARY LANDRIEU, (D), LOUISIANA (from press conference): We still may have to fashion some legislation, and we're going to continue to work in that regard.
                        
GARRETT: CBS News asked the President why he promised people could keep their plans in the first place.

GARRETT (on-camera, from White House press conference): 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?

OBAMA: There is no doubt that the way I put that forward unequivocally ended up not being accurate. That's something I deeply regret, because it's scary getting a cancellation notice.

GARRETT (voice-over): We also asked the President if he knew, two weeks before launch, the federal health care website was a mess.

GARRETT (on-camera): 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 1. Did you, sir, make that test (sic), and if so, did you regret that?

OBAMA: Okay. On the website, I was not informed directly – that the website would not be working the way it was supposed to.

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.

GARRETT (live): Back to this insurance problem fix from the President: state insurance commissioners are going to have to agree to allow insurance companies to reissue policies they had already canceled, because they didn't comply with ObamaCare. Many state insurance commissioners have said they will not embrace, and are therefore, unlikely to enforce the President's new policy. Charlie and Norah?

ROSE: Major Garrett, thanks.

— Matthew Balan is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Matthew Balan on Twitter.