By Justin Sink - 11/07/13 06:03 PM EST
President Obama on Thursday apologized to Americans who are losing their healthcare coverage, despite his promise that if individuals liked their plans, they could keep them under ObamaCare.
"I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me," the president told NBC News.
Millions of Americans have received cancellation notices from their insurance companies saying they couldn't keep their current plans because they don't meet ObamaCare's requirements.
Some insurance companies have also announced they would not continue to offer existing plans, saying that it is too administratively burdensome to manage plans that do not satisfy basic coverage requirements mandated by ObamaCare. Instead, they've offered consumers more expensive plans that include increased benefits.
Obama suggested that he could be open to altering the law in some way so that people who are losing their insurance could be grandfathered in.
"I've assigned my team to see what we can do to close some of the holes and gaps in the law," Obama said, adding that he regretted the legislation wasn't doing "what we intended to do, which is to make sure that everybody is moving into better plans because they want 'em, as opposed to because they're forced into it."
But he stopped short of endorsing "keep your plan" legislation being proposed in Congress.
"We're looking at a range of options," Obama said.
Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerSanders-Warren ticket would sweep the nation GOP rep. on 'Lucifer' remark: Boehner has ‘said much, much worse’ Dictionary reports spike in 'Lucifer' searches after Boehner remark MORE (R-Ohio) said Obama should follow up the apology by backing the House bill to let people keep their coverage.
“An apology is certainly in order, but what Americans want to hear is that the president is going to keep his promise,” Boehner said in a statement.
The House plans to vote on a bill next week that would grandfather in all health insurance plans that existed as of Jan. 1, 2013.
“If the president is sincerely sorry that he misled the American people, the very least he can do is support this bipartisan effort," Boehner said. "Otherwise, this apology doesn’t amount to anything.”
Questions about the president's promise mounted this week as lawmakers and reporters pressured the White House to explain the dozens of instances where Obama assured individuals, point blank, that they could keep their coverage.
White House press secretary Jay Carney has been peppered with questions about the cancellation notices, and officials from the president on down have struggled to respond. On Monday, Obama told attendees at a health care forum that he understood the cancellation notices would be "scary" for many Americans.
With the president’s poll numbers falling, the White House on Tuesday sought the help of the insurance companies to try and tamp down the uproar.
White House chief of staff Denis McDonough asked insurance executives to change the cancellation notices to better explain what new options are available under ObamaCare and what new subsidies they might qualify for.
Republicans have seized on the discrepancy between Obama's remarks and the reality of ObamaCare as proof that the president sold the public a false bill of goods.
On Tuesday, a spokesman for Boehner said Obama had showed "contempt for the American people" with his "deceptive" remarks.
"Just stop. Stop," said Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck. "Stop and admit you sold this health law on a central promise that is flat-out untrue. Have enough respect for the people who elected you to be honest. No one is being fooled anymore."
Last week, the president for the first time began adjusting his statements by noting that only individuals who had maintained unchanged coverage since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law would be able to keep their coverage.
The White House fought back by noting that only a small slice of the population purchased their own insurance — rather than receiving it through their work or federal programs like Medicare and Medicaid — and that those consumers were accustomed to "upheavals in the market."
Before the implementation of ObamaCare, only a small percentage of private insurance buyers kept the same plan from year to year.
Obama on Thursday noted plans that seemed good at present might leave consumers vulnerable.
"The fact of the matter is that a whole lot of people who were in this individual market, who were buying health care on their own, because they're not gettin' it through their employer, they might be happy with it this year, and then suddenly next year, the cost got jacked up by 15 percent to 20 percent," Obama said.
— This story was last updated at 7:48 p.m.