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Flashback: '09 claims about ObamaCare haunt law's rollout

 

The Obama administration's confident claims back in 2009 and 2010 about the landmark health care overhaul are steadily returning to haunt them. 

As thousands of Americans receive insurance plan cancellation notices, President Obama's oft-repeated statement that anyone who likes their health plan can keep it is now a ripe target. And an Aug. 4, 2009 White House blog that tried to calm rising concerns over the Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare -- in the context of today's developments -- makes some spurious claims. 

"Opponents of health insurance reform may find the truth a little inconvenient, but as our second president famously said, 'facts are stubborn things,'" Macon Phillips, then-director of White House digital strategy, wrote at the time. 

The blog, part of the White House website's so-called "reality check," is chockfull of "explainer" videos from people like Linda Douglass, the communications director for the White House's Health Reform Office. In one, she says one of her jobs "is to keep track of all the disinformation about health insurance reform." 

She admonishes the media for causing alarm and alerting the public on the possible pitfalls associated with the law. She then throws to a video of Obama speaking at a July 28, 2009 AARP event. 

"Here's a guarantee that I've made," Obama says in the video. "If you have insurance that you like, then you will be able to keep that insurance." 

"Nobody is trying to change what works in the system," Obama says. "We are trying to change what doesn't work in the system." 

Douglass then throws to another clip from a speech the president made on June 23, 2009 touting the benefits of the health care law. 

"If you like your plan, and you like your doctor, you won't have to do a thing," Obama said. "You keep your plan. You keep your doctor. If your employer is providing you with good insurance, terrific! We're not going to mess with it." 

In the years since the video warning the public about the media spin on ObamaCare was made, the administration has had a lot of explaining to do. Most recently, they've acknowledged how plans from March 2010 and earlier would be grandfathered in -- but only if the insurance provider has not made significant changes to them. 

The president has recently come under fire for promising to make buying insurance as easy as purchasing a plane ticket online or a "TV on Amazon." The turbulence that followed the rocky rollout of the Oct. 1 online healthcare exchanges were brushed aside by the White House as "glitches." 

On Wednesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testified at a House hearing where she personally apologized for the failures associated with the rollout. "Hold me accountable for the debacle," she said. "I'm responsible." 

She deflected charges that the administration misled the American people about being able to keep their health plans. 

When asked by Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, about why people were getting cancellation notices from their insurance companies and why a change was made allowing certain insurance policies to be ruled ineligible under ObamaCare, Sebelius claimed, "There was no change."