Carney Falsely Claims Insurers Are Responsible for Eliminating Policies in Individual Insurance Market

Fails to mention HHS regs after ACA signed into law guaranteed individuals would lose coverage

October 29, 2013

White House press secretary Jay Carney claimed private insurers are responsible for eliminating certain plans in the individual insurance market Tuesday in the White House press conference.

CNN reporter Jim Acosta grilled Carney on President Obama's past statements in which Obama stated individuals could keep their insurance if they liked it. Acosta asked Carney if President Obama misspoke, noting House Democrat Steny Hoyer (D., Md.) said President Obama's characterizations should have been more "precise" earlier today:

JIM ACOSTA: One of the top Democrats in the House, Steny Hoyer, said this morning, I think preciseness would have been better. He was making that comment about the president's claim if you like your plan, you can keep it -- (off mic) --

JAY CARNEY: Jim, I appreciate that, and I -- and I -- as I was saying to another reporter, look, we can -- if you want to make that point, you can. Again, I've explained exactly what was possible when the law was written. You can't grandfather in plans that didn't exist. You can't grandfather in people who didn't have insurance and then bought it in the interim. So --

ACOSTA: Some precision might have been better on the president's part?

CARNEY: Well, Jim, again, you can focus on that level, or you -- if you do --

ACOSTA: It's an important --

CARNEY: But Jim, if you do --

ACOSTA: It's an important claim to focus on, Jay, because --

CARNEY: Absolutely.

ACOSTA: -- this is something that the president said time and again to sell the health care law to the American people, and it was something that reassured millions of Americans out there that their plan would not be changed. So it's not something that we're -- you know, we're just picking on one little thing here to make a big political point or complain -- (inaudible) --

CARNEY: Sure. All I ask -- all I ask is that when you do the report, you note that anybody who had a plan the day before the Affordable Care Act passed and was signed into law, and that -- and has not been thrown off that plan and had it replaced by their insurer, has not dropped coverage of their own volition and then purchased it again in the interim, but has had that plan, is grandfathered in and can keep that plan.

The new almost laughably nuanced talking point from the White House comes amid a report that the Obama administration knew as far back as 2010 that as many as 7 million policyholders would lose their coverage under Obamacare.

As NBC notes in the report and Carney failed to mention, HHS wrote new regulations after the Affordable Care Act was passed stipulating that any significant change (i.e. deductible, co-pay, or benefits) to one's insurance would disqualify the plan from the "grandfathering" provision and thus would result in termination:

None of this should come as a shock to the Obama administration. The law states that policies in effect as of March 23, 2010 will be "grandfathered," meaning consumers can keep those policies even though they don’t meet requirements of the new health care law. But the Department of Health and Human Services then wrote regulations that narrowed that provision, by saying that if any part of a policy was significantly changed since that date -- the deductible, co-pay, or benefits, for example -- the policy would not be grandfathered.

Full exchange: