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Obama: 'We fumbled the rollout' of health care plan

Updated: Thursday, November 14 2013, 03:04 PM EST

Obama to pitch economic agenda at Ohio steel plant

By: The Associated Press and NEWS9

Dogged by the botched enrollment launch of his health care law, Obama is taking an economic message to Ohio, using a Cleveland steel plant as the setting to promote his energy efficiency, business attraction and auto industry policies.

Obama planned to highlight some of the positive notes in the still sluggish economic recovery, even as computer problems and unfulfilled promises associated with the health care law were the focus Thursday at the White House and in Congress.

In Cleveland, Obama will visit a plant owned by ArcelorMittal, the Luxembourg-based steel company that manufactures advanced high-strength steel that contributes to automobile fuel efficiency.

But the trip and its message were already overshadowed by Obama's announcement Thursday that insurance companies would now have the option to keep offering consumers plans that would otherwise be canceled. The announcement was meant to meet an Obama promise, ultimately unmet for millions, which assured Americans that they would be able to keep their coverage if they liked it.

Obama will likely address the status of the health care law in Ohio, a day after his administration announced that only 26,794 people enrolled for insurance on the trouble-plagued federal website during October.

In a bright spot for Obama, Ohio Gov. John Kasich is one of a few Republican governors to take advantage of the law's Medicaid expansion to reach more low-income Americans. Obama later will attend a political fundraiser in Philadelphia.

Across the state border, about half of the West Virginians who've applied for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act have found they are eligible for government insurance programs.

Figures released Wednesday by the Department of Health and Human Services show 7,096 West Virginians applied for health coverage through the federal government's website from Oct. 1 to Nov. 2. Of that total, about 3,100 were eligible for coverage either through Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program.

About 3,400 people were eligible for private health coverage. Highmark West Virginia says 198 completed the enrollment process between Oct. 1 and Nov. 12.

West Virginians for Affordable Health Care executive director Perry Bryant tells media outlets that problems with the federal government's website could hurt the entire insurance market.

On Thursday, President Barack Obama went before the public to defend the law and the continuing efforts to fix it.

The president's comments followed the release Wednesday of the nationwide figures detailing the number of Americans who have been able to sidestep problems with the Healthcare.gov website and sign up for coverage.

Just 26,794 people signed up for health care via the crippled federal website, and another 79,000 signed up through state-run exchanges for a total of only about 106,000 enrollees nationwide.

The numbers coincide with low numbers for the president's job approval rating, which is near or below 40 percent.

The president noted that the first-month enrollment numbers in health care plans under his law are lagging and he isn't happy about it.

Obama says his administration "fumbled the rollout" of his signature health care law and is taking responsibility for problems with the launch of the program. He said, "That's on me" and vowed to build a better health care system for every American and "get it right."

Obama says it's legitimate for Americans to expect him to have to win back some credibility on the health care law and in general.

The president acknowledges his assertion that Americans who like their health plan could keep it, in his words, "ended up not being accurate." He says that wasn't his intention.

Obama says he wasn't informed directly that the Healthcare.gov website wouldn't be working, and wouldn't have rolled it out if he did. He says he wouldn't have been "stupid enough" to say it was going to be like shopping on Amazon had he known.

The president further said he hears Americans who are upset about losing their health insurance "loud and clear" and is offering a fix.

During his news conference on Thursday, he announced that insurance companies can keep offering consumers plans that would otherwise be canceled.

The administrative changes are good for just one year, though senior administration officials said they could be extended if problems with the law persist.

Obama: 'We fumbled the rollout' of health care plan


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