Senior White House Advisor Dan Pfeiffer responded on Sunday to growing frustration with President Barack Obama’s inaccurate promise that individuals would be able to stay on their healthcare plans once his signature legislation was implemented.
"If the president didn't intend to keep this promise, why would he have gone out of his way to put a provision in the law specifically says that if you have a plan before Obamacare passed you can keep that plan?" Pfeiffer asked on ABC’s This Week. "It's important to understand who we're talking about and the kind of plans we're talking about. It's 5 percent of the market. This is the individual market."
At least 2 million people have been dropped from their individual plans, despite the president’s repeated assurances to the contrary, and a 2010 regulatory change to the grandfather clause suggested Obama knew his statements would be inaccurate.
Obama’s credibility problem deepened this weekend when the Wall Street Journal reported "some White House policy advisers objected to the breadth of Mr. Obama's ‘keep your plan' promise," but their objections were ultimately "overruled by political aides."
Pfeiffer and Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, a former White House policy adviser and an instrumental figure in crafting the Affordable Care Act, dodged questions pertaining to the article’s suggestion, that despite knowing the promises were false, the administration proceeded with the claim in order to sell the legislation to the public. Both largely defended the promises and the broader "grandfather" clause.
"When we passed the law we said any plan that existed before the date the law was passed would be grandfathered in, unless lots of changes were made," Emanuel said on Fox News Sunday. "Look we grandfathered in all the preexisting plans, if you want to change plans or you want to buy a new car you have to meet safety standards."
"Your grandfathering is so narrow," host Chris Wallace said, "for instance, if an insurance company changes the co-pay by more than $5.00 over the course of the three years, since 2010, it’s no longer grandfathered in."
"That’s usually a 25% change," Emanuel contended. "That’s a big change."
Pfeiffer pushed back against similar criticisms.
When asked why the President would make such a literal promise that could not be kept, Pfeiffer said, "Look, I can't go back in time on this. And like I said, I don't recall this debate the Wall Street Journal talks about in any way, shape or form."
While he acknowledged that not everyone is able to keep their previous plan, Pfeiffer argued those individuals would ultimately have access to less costly and better health insurance.
"50 percent of this group are going to be able to get access to tax subsidies to make their plans cheaper," Pfeiffer said. "And most of them will get a better plan for less for the same or less. And many these plans, were cut-rate plans that didn't cover hospitalization, doctor's visits."