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Yarmuth: ACA drafters knew guarantee was impossible

by WHAS11


Posted on November 6, 2013 at 12:04 AM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 6 at 2:38 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- President Barack Obama "made a big mistake" when he repeatedly guaranteed that no Americans would lose their current health insurance plan with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth said Tuesday.  

Yarmuth (D-Kentucky) is one of the Democratic Congressman who helped draft the law.

"Those of us who were drafting the law as I was in 2009, kind of cringed when he said that the first time," Yarmuth told WHAS11.  "We knew that that was not possible, that we can't control what insurance companies do."

Yet, Obama's insistence on the point was unequivocal as he both pitched the law and ran for re-election in 2012.

"If you like your plan, you can keep your plan," Obama said in his stump speech, "Period."

"The federal government can't tell an insurance company to sell a certain policy or not," Yarmuth said.  "So we knew there were gonna be instances in which people could not keep the coverage they had."

"Anytime you make a universal, unconditional statement about the United States, you're going to be proven wrong," Yarmuth continued.  "And I'm sure he wishes he hadn't said that and I never said that."

"So, he made a big mistake."

The Associated Press reports at least 3.5 million Americans have received insurance plans cancellations since the ACA came into effect.

"In my home state of Kentucky alone, 130,000 individual policies and 150,000 small-group policies will be canceled," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in remarks on the Senate floor Tuesday morning.  "And remember, the President assured Americans up and down that this wouldn’t happen."

The issue looms large in Kentucky's 2014 Senate race.

Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes has called for a delay in ACA deadlines and WHAS11 asked her Tuesday about Obama's promise.

"I think what we have seen the Washington promises that have been made by Washington politicians need to be upheld," Grimes said.  "And I call again upon Congress to make sure that we can keep up with those promises that have been made."

Grimes also called for the "grandfathering clause" to be extended through the end of this year.

"So that individuals - many hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians - can keep their insurance plan should they like them, as well as make sure the insurance companies keep to the consumers what are the inadequacies that don't meet the fair standards under the Affordable Care Act."

Yarmuth was asked if he believed the Obama administration deliberately misled the American people.

"I think they felt that they were literally accurate in that if somebody wanted to change a policy, wanted to keep a policy

that was not changed, they could keep that policy," Yarmuth responded.  "What he should have said was, there was nothing in the law that would force somebody to change their policy."

Insurance companies drop people and change the terms of their coverage all the time, Yarmuth said.

"So there was no way that what he said was ever going to be true."

"I think they thought that with the grandfather clause they were on solid ground saying that," Yarmuth said.  "But clearly, most people took it in a much broader sense which was to be expected."