CNN Spins for Obama: 'You Can Keep Your Health Care Plan' Promise Was Just an 'Oversell'

CNN's Joe Johns wouldn't call President Obama's "you can keep your health care plan" promise a lie or a broken promise, on Tuesday. According to him, it "might have been an oversell."

This despite a report that the administration knew millions would lose their insurance under ObamaCare.  Johns, in his deep benefit of the doubt for the White House, gave this ever-so-slight criticism of the administration's promises: "they do appear to have made some statements at the outset while they were selling the program that appear to have been over broad."

And Johns added this gem after quoting the White House's explanation of people losing insurance: "So it's a little bit complicated. Long and short, there might have been an oversell when trying to get this through."

Johns even admitted that the administration was not fully honest, yet only called it an "oversell":

"The President said again and again that you could keep your insurance but it's not clear how many times he actually distinguished between employer-based insurance and people who bought private insurance after ObamaCare was signed into law. Or if that insurance changed, for example, after ObamaCare was signed, then we all know now, your insurance could go away."

Anchor Wolf Blitzer reported that many are now losing their insurance because of ObamaCare, yet wouldn't peg Obama's promise as "broken" or a "lie":

"Because a lot of people now who like, presumably like their plans are being told they're no longer eligible for those plans and getting letters from Blue Cross Blue Shield, from Kaiser, from other companies saying in order to comply with the much more intense requirements of ObamaCare this plan you used to be on no longer exists."

Below is a transcript of the segment, which aired on CNN Newsroom on October 29 at 1:01 p.m. EDT:

[1:01]

WOLF BLITZER: It was a repeated promise from President Obama. If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan, he said it often. But an insurance industry source now says most Americans on individual plans will see their existing coverage changed or even canceled. The White House says ObamaCare will mean better, more comprehensive coverage. But at what cost? The head of the agency in charge of creating the ObamaCare website was asked about that at a congressional hearing today.

(...)

BLITZER: Joe Johns has been digging into this sensitive issue for us. So John, did the White House knowingly or perhaps not knowingly mislead the American public when the President so often said if you like your health plan, you can keep your health plan?

JOE JOHNS: Wolf, if you look at some of these statements they do appear to have made some statements at the outset while they were selling the program that appear to have been over broad. They made a blanket statement, made it sound like they were talking about all insurance and they were talking about most insurance. Especially the insurance that people get through their employers. The President said again and again that you could keep your insurance but it's not clear how many times he actually distinguished between employer-based insurance and people who bought private insurance after ObamaCare was signed into law. Or if that insurance changed, for example, after ObamaCare was signed, then we all know now, your insurance could go away.

It's not clear how often they told people that insurance companies might cancel positions because they didn't comply with ObamaCare and that's happening, too. The administration points out this is information that's been out there a long time and in a statement today, the White House said in part, "These protections will improve the plans that insurance companies offer today unless you're in the same plan that you were in when the law passed which is grandfathered out of these changes. In other words, nothing in the Affordable Care Act forces people out of their health plans because the law allows plans that covered people at the time the law was enacted to continue to offer that same coverage to the enrollees." So it's a little bit complicated. Long and short, there might have been an oversell when trying to get this through.

WOLF BLITZER: Well, there must have been an oversell. Because a lot of people now who like, presumably like their plans are being told they're no longer eligible for those plans and getting letters from Blue Cross Blue Shield, from Kaiser, from other companies saying in order to comply with the much more intense requirements of ObamaCare this plan you used to be on no longer exists.

JOHNS: Something like 300,000 people with Florida Blue alone in the state of Florida getting that letter, very recently. We're told that number could go as high as between 11 and 15 million people across the country who could get these letters. Now it's also important to say the administration says probably almost half of the people who find themselves in that situation with private insurance will end up getting subsidies from the government that cut that substantial, the higher number as much as in half.

BLITZER: And the federal registrar back on June 17th, 2010 – 2010 -- there was an estimate that anywhere between 40 percent to 67 percent of people on those individual plans – about 15 million Americans – would no longer be able to keep those plans, assuming some of the assumptions they have here from insurance companies.

JOHNS: Right, and somebody should have come out and said – sort of waved the flag and said on private insurance all bets are off. And they didn't do that. We have been talking about this issue of grandfathering, which is kind of complicated, for some time now. So this is not a huge surprise to people who are very close to it. Nonetheless, it's a very big surprise for those people getting those letters, Wolf.

BLITZER: Of the 15 million who have those individual plans, mostly self-employed people, anywhere between let's say 7 and 10 million, 12 million of them will have to get new – they might get better health insurance. They might get more affordable health insurance. On the other hand, they may have to spend more and they may not get the doctors they wanted either.

JOHNS: I've already talked to at least one person, a Puerto Rican who found himself in a situation where he was not going to get the subsidy. And that's a very bitter pill to swallow. Because you heard what the President had to say, then suddenly you get this letter and all you can see is your insurance is going up and you're going to end up paying more in premiums. It's tough.
 

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014