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Gibbs: 'Keep your plan' line was wrong

Former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday that it was "certainly" the wrong move for President Obama to insist that those who liked their health insurance could keep their plans.

During an appearance on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Gibbs was asked if the president should have refrained from making the pledge in light of revelations that some Americans who purchase their own health insurance individually won't be able to keep their existing plans.

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“Oh, well, certainly,” said Gibbs. "Now, I do think some explanation in terms of the fact that policies that were in place at the point at which the president signed them were grandfathered in for this.”

Individuals who have purchased insurance since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, changed plans during that period or had their insurance companies significantly alter their plans are not eligible to keep their coverage under the new law. 

Some insurance companies have also said they will not continue to offer certain 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.

Republicans have seized on this point to hammer the White House as dishonest over the consequences of its signature healthcare law. 

“The problem with ObamaCare isn’t just the website; it’s the whole law,” Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said last week.

“This is government-run healthcare because virtually every policy that is sold has to be approved by the government,” he continued. “That’s why you’ve got 1.5 million Americans who are already gotten these notices that they’re going to lose their health coverage because it doesn’t meet the minimum standard.”

The White House has said that the number of individuals who will lose their plans is relatively small,  and that many of those forced to shop for new policies will enjoy better coverage at a subsidized price.

"Fifty percent this group are going to be able to get access to tax subsidies to make their plans cheaper," White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer told ABC News on Sunday. "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."

In the same interview, Pfeiffer said he could not recall a discussion, reported by The Wall Street Journal, in which Obama aides allegedly fretted over the line because they knew the promise would not be fulfilled.

Gibbs echoed that sentiment, saying he didn't "recall significant discussions around some of the verbiage on this, to be a hundred percent honest with you."