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President Obama adds caveat to 'You can keep it' declaration

8:50 AM, Nov 5, 2013   |    comments
President Obama speaks in Washington on Thursday.(Photo: Saul Loeb, AFP/Getty Images)
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(USA TODAY) -- President Obama has added a caveat to his oft-repeated pledge that if you like your health care plan, you can keep it.

Speaking to more than 200 supporters on Monday night in Washington, Obama added some significant verbiage to his declaration - "if you like your current insurance, you keep that insurance" - that was a standard part of his public pitch on his signature health care legislation dating to 2009.

"Now, if you had one of these plans before the Affordable Care Act came into law and you really liked that plan, what we said was you can keep it if it hasn't changed since the law passed," he said.

Obama's tweaking of his claim comes after he has faced an avalanche of criticism from Republicans, who say the declaration has proven to be untrue as millions of Americans are receiving cancellation notices from their insurance providers.

Administration officials have stressed it should be no surprise that a slice of the 5% of U.S. consumers who are on the individual insurance market would be forced to switch plans as a result of insurance providers dealing with meeting the minimum benefit requirement established under the law.

But twhile Obama repeatedly trumpeted the ability of Americans to keep their insurance if they already had it, less emphasized was the reality that some insurers providing bare-bones coverage prior to the full implementation of the law would be forced to phase out such policies.

At a health care summit hosted by Organizing for Action, a political group started by high-ranking alumni of Obama's two presidential campaigns, the president expressed frustration that he's getting beat up for the insurance cancellations.

"People are acting like this is some new phenomenon," Obama said. "Every year there was churn in this individual market. The average increase was double-digits on premiums in the same market, with or without the Affordable Care Act. People were getting, oftentimes, a very bad deal."

Despite the president's protestations, the issue is unlikely to go away for Obama anytime soon.

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