OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Obama says a majority can keep their plans

President Obama on Wednesday for the first time defended his claim that every American would be able to keep their health insurance plans under ObamaCare. Obama accused his opponents of “grossly misleading” the public as Republicans seize on reports that hundreds of thousands of people have received letters notifying them that their plans will be canceled by the end of the year.

Obama said Republicans weren't giving the full picture even as he acknowledged that some people will not be able to keep their health plans under the new law. GOP accusations that Obama misled the public by insisting that people could keep their healthcare plans under ObamaCare have added to mounting problems for the healthcare law’s rollout. Justin Sink at The Hill reports.

BREAKING: Vice President Biden is the latest high-level administration official to apologize for the botched healthcare rollout.

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“We assumed that it as up and ready to run,” Biden told CNN. “But the good news is, although it’s not and we apologize for that, we’re confident that by the end of November it will be, and there will still be plenty of time for people to register and get online."

My bad: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for the first time on Wednesday apologized for the botched rollout of the ObamaCare website. Sebelius is the public face of the bungled launch, and she has heard calls from dozens of Republican for her to resign. She had heretofore been defiant, but on Wednesday, she adopted a conciliatory tone.

The apology she made was not in the prepared remarks that were posted Tuesday on the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s website, and upon entering the hearing room, Sebelius walked up to the panel and shook hands with many of her critics, including Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), who had said Sebelius’s testimony will be her last act as secretary before she’s “out the door.” Jonathan Easley at The Hill reports.

BREAKING: White House spokesman Josh Earnest offered a lengthy defense of Sebelius en route to President Obama’s healthcare speech in Boston. Per the White House pool report:

“The President has complete confidence in Secretary Sebelius. She has been responsible, as you pointed out, for the broader implementation of the Affordable Care Act. That also means that she’s responsible for the construction of some of these consumer protections that have gone into place that have gone into place very smoothly. She’s responsible for the policy work that’s been done to construct the individual marketplaces that are offering a wide variety of options to people who don’t currently have insurance so they can purchase insurance for themselves and their family, and that they can do so at an affordable price, and that they can get a quality level of benefits out of it.

So she certainly is responsible for the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and she took responsibility for many of the problems that are evident with the website. But she also deserves credit for the other aspects of the Affordable Care Act implementation process that has gone well.”

Standing up for the boss: President Obama’s claim that people could keep their old health plans under ObamaCare dominated questioning at Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’s committee hearing. The White House has struggled to defend President Obama’s 2009 claim as thousands of people receive notifications that their insurance companies are dropping their plans. Sebelius repeated the administration’s argument that, if people are losing their plans, it is because of insurance companies and not the new healthcare law. Jonathan Easley at The Hill reports.

BREAKING: The White House weighs in on Sebelius’s congressional hearing. More from Earnest’s gaggle:

“I have not had a chance to talk to [President Obama] about whether he watched the testimony today, and I didn’t have a chance to watch it before either. But others at the White House did have a chance to watch portions of her testimony and thought she did a very good job of explaining to the American public and to the relevant congressional committee that has oversight over HHS about the efforts that are underway to fix the website and the efforts that are underway to continue the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. to make sure that, for the first time, people all across the country, or at least for millions of people all across the country, that they’ll have access to quality, affordable health insurance.”

 

State by State

Who broke Medicaid in Florida? Gary Stein at The Huffington Post investigates.

A federal appeals court could rule soon on the Texas abortion law, the Los Angeles Times reports.

At least 63,900 New Mexicans will have to change healthcare policies, according to Capitol Report New Mexico.

 

Reading List

ObamaCare is making Republicans look wise, writes John Dickerson at Slate.

Byron York at The Washington Examiner says President Obama is reaping what he sowed in the healthcare debacle.

What Obama really meant to say, according to Jason Linkins at The Huffington Post.

Zachary Roth at MSNBC explains how Wendy Davis can win in Texas.

 

What you may have missed on HealthWatch

HHS deals with website outage during Sebelius’s Capitol Hill testimony.

Romney blasts ObamaCare as ‘frustrating embarrassment’

The public is divided over the healthcare rollout, according to two new polls.

 

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Jonathan Easley / jeasley@thehill.com / 202-407-8014 / @joneasley


Elise Viebeck / eviebeck@thehill.com / 202-628-8523 / @eliseviebeck