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Special Report

All-Star Panel: Reaction to Obama's 'fix' for canceled health plans

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," November 14, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: The bottom line is insurers can extend current plans that would otherwise be canceled into 2014, and Americans whose plans have been canceled can choose to re-enroll in the same kind of plan.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS WALLACE, ANCHOR: President Barack Obama announcing his so called fix today to make good on his promise. If you like your health care plan you can keep your health care plan, period.

It's time to bring in our panel, Jonah Goldberg of National Review online, Kirstin Powers from the Daily Beast, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, who we now have to point out has just reached number one on the New York Times bestseller list, knocking off Bill O'Reilly. The Times must be breaking out in hives having the two of you at the top of their chart, not to mention the reaction from Papa Bear O'Reilly.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: He's been extremely gracious in helping the book and promoting the book and launching it -- so he's a classy guy and he showed it in doing this.

WALLACE: You think that's going to make him forgive you for knocking him off?

KRAUTHAMMER: Not a chance a hell.

(LAUGHTER)

WALLACE: All right, Jonah, how much does the president's fix fix the idea of allowing insurance companies to sell the insurance policies they had been canceling for millions of people? How much is that going to help the actual people who have been canceled?

JONAH GOLDBERG, AT LARGE EDITOR, NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE: It's unclear. You talk to people in the insurance industry, and a lot of them will say it's very difficult to get those plans back. They were set up – they were the one who cooperated with the administration, they cooperated with the law, they bought into the law. And they've been getting up to speed canceling these programs because they were noncompliant. And the idea of just sort of recreating them and reapplying them is problematic.

To me it's a political fix but a policy problem. This is a way for Obama to say it's not me doing this. It's the insurance companies. He's throwing the insurance companies under the bus and they're very mad about it.

WALLACE: I want to pick up on that because the president was literally still speaking when America's health insurance plans, the lobbying group for the health insurance industry, put out this statement.  Let's put it up on the screen, "Changing the rules after health plans have already met the requirements of the law could destabilize the market and result in higher premiums for consumers. If now fewer younger and healthier people choose to purchase coverage in the exchange, premiums will increase and there will be fewer choices for consumers."

Kirstin, and maybe this is a naive question, but why on earth would the president and White House put out this fix without any buy-in from the insurance companies?

KIRSTEN POWERS, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK POST: Well, because they weren't going to get any buy-in from the insurance companies. It's not just that. Consider the fact that insurance companies were told by the government for the last few years they were supposed to spend all their time putting together all these plans that were compliant, bronze, and silver and all these things. And they did it and then the president walks out one day and basically says forget that. We're going to do something completely different, when a lot of people who have switched their plans, for Blue Cross Blue Shield, the deadline is, I think, in a couple of weeks. For example, I've already sent in the paperwork to change plans. How are the insurance companies going to deal with this issue? And he can't mandate it. He doesn't have the authority. So that's why he didn't mandate it. He's basically, I think, just creating chaos.

WALLACE: And do you agree with Jonah that this is about -- I'm not really going to be able to get your old policies back, now you can blame the insurance companies and not me?

POWERS: Yes. I think he's missing the point because I don't think anybody is going to forget why the insurance companies were changing plans and telling people they have to get ACA compliant plans. This was not the insurance company's idea.

WALLACE: Charles, what's going on here? Have we just even left behind the pretense that we're making policy here and that this is all about putting out this fire?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: This is all about show, this is all about appearances, and this is all about the president protecting himself and some Democrats. Politically, Jonah and Kirstin are right. This is not going to have real effect on those who lost policies. The state health insurance commissioners have indicated this is almost impossible to undo. You can't put the humpty dumpty back.

He did it because there was a rebellion among Democrats on this. Everyone knows about Republican opposition wall to wall and constant. But what he was getting, especially after the statement by Clinton, Bill Clinton, who said a few days ago the president has not honored the promise he made. That's number one, a pretty big accusation, even though he had the pseudo-apology. And second, he needs to change the law.

Well, here was all the Democrats furious at him. They all went out on a limb. They have been getting all this mail from people that have lost their insurance plans. He doesn't want to change the law. So what he does -- this is a stopgap, because there's going to be a bill introduced in the House by Republicans tomorrow, and he was afraid of a stampede a Republicans who would support it and make him look completely isolated -- I'm sorry of Democrats -- to join the Republicans in changing the law, but the law itself.

So he decided I'll do an executive action as a way to at least allow the Democrats to say we're drawing something. But the miscalculation is these Democrats have to have a vote. They have to support what the Republicans are doing. They have to show on the record that they wanted to undo this disaster. That's why some of them will support the Republicans tomorrow.

WALLACE: We have to take a quick break here, but we're going to continue the discussion, and particularly in the next segment we're going to focus on the growing panic, I don't think that's too strong a word, among Congressional Democrats over the botched rollout of ObamaCare. Keep it here.

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