President Obama said Thursday he was “sorry” Americans are losing health insurance plans he repeatedly said they could keep, and vowed to work with those who are finding themselves in a “tough situation” as a result.
His remarks came as a bipartisan bill was introduced in the Senate to delay the implementation of the individual mandate of ObamaCare by one year, meaning Americans would avoid a $95 penalty for not having health insurance that is scheduled to kick in next year.
Referring to those who are losing their health insurance plans, Obama told NBC News, “I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me. We’ve got to work hard to make sure that they know we hear them and we are going to do everything we can to deal with folks who find themselves in a tough position as a consequence of this.”
The White House, while defending the health care law and vowing to fix the problems with the website, has not explicitly ruled out the possibility of delaying the individual mandate.
House Speaker John Boehner responded to Obama’s apology late Thursday, saying “an apology is certainly in order, but what Americans want to hear is that the president is going to keep his promise.”
Thursday’s bill was introduced by Senators Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Mark Kirk, R-Ill., who said since the Affordable Care Act was passed, there have been “many identifiable problems exposed in the law that need to be addressed.”
“We need to start working together to fix this law and make it work so that all Americans have access to affordable and reliable health care coverage,” Manchin said in a statement. “We can start with a one-year delay of the individual mandate to eliminate penalty fees if individuals choose to not enroll for a health care plan in 2014.
“This common sense proposal simply allows Americans to take more time to browse and explore their options, making 2014 a true transition year.”
The legislation acknowledges there are many positive components of the Affordable Care Act that will lead to health care becoming more affordable for all Americans, and these reforms must “continue to be implemented.”
“Nevertheless, it is important to recognize when a new program is not meeting the high standards that the American people expect,” the bill reads. “So far, the federal healthcare exchanges have failed, and we must deliver a better product.”
The bill also says that delaying the entire implementation of ObamaCare would not be “responsible,” but Congress should take action to make “commonsense reforms” to the law.
“Healthcare should not be a burden on consumers, which is why we must delay the penalty for individuals,” Kirk said in a statement. “Last July, American businesses were given more time to provide employees health coverage. If a delay is good enough for businesses, it should be good enough for all Americans.”