Nightly News   |  November 07, 2013

President Obama shares his regrets about healthcare law

In an exclusive interview with President Obama, NBC’s Chuck Todd asks about the troubled healthcare rollout and the president’s promise that people could keep the insurance plans they had. Obama says he’s “deeply concerned” about the people who have had their insurance canceled, and intends to “make sure the insurance people buy is effective.”

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> good evening. we are all about to hear the president of the united states apologize, and not just for the troubled rollout of the new health care website but for the fact that his promise to the american people that if they like their current health insurance they can keep it has not held true for all. our chief white house correspondent and political director chuck todd sat down with the president exclusively a short time ago at the white house . he's on the north lawn to start us off. good evening.

>> reporter: good evening. the troubled health care rollout and the president's apparent broken promise b about people keeping the plans they like has been weighing heavily on the entire white house . it was a chastened commander in chief i spoke with earlier today. i will start with health care . it's probably the most quoted thing or requoted thing you have said in your presidency. if you like your health care plan, you can keep it.

>> if you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. period.

>> reporter: what happened?

>> well, first of all, i meant what i said. we worked hard to try to make sure we implemented it properly. obviously we didn't do a good enough job. i regret that. we are talking about 5% of the population who are in what's called the individual market. they are out there buying health insurance on their own. even though it only affects a small amount of the population, it means a lot to them obviously when they get this letter cancelled. you know, i am deeply concerned about it. i have assigned my team to see what can we do to close some of the holes and gaps in the law because my intention is to lift up and make sure the insurance people buy is effective.

>> reporter: do you feel you owe these folks an apology for misleading them? they feel misled. you have seen the anger out there.

>> i regret very much that what we intended to do -- which is to make sure that everybody is moving into better plans because they want them as opposed to because they are forced into it -- that we weren't as clear as we needed to be in terms of the changes that were taking place. i want to do everything we can to make sure that people are finding themselves in a good position, a better position than they were before this law happened . i am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me. we've got to work hard to make sure that they know we hear them and that we are going to do everything we can to deal with folks who find themselves in a tough position as a consequence of this.

>> you have 21 days until november 30 . is the website going to be running smoothly enough? if it's not at that point do you sit there and say, okay, let's extend the enrollment period, the mandate.

>> i'm deeply upset b about how the website has not worked over the first couple of weeks. i take responsibility of that. my team takes responsibility of that. we are working every single day 24/7 to improve it. it's better now than it was last week. it's certainly a lot better than it was on october 1st . having said that, given that i have been burned already with a website -- well, more importantly the american people have been burned by a website that's been dysfunctional, what we have been doing is creating a whole other set of tracks, making sure people can apply by phone effectively, making sure people can apply in person effectively.

>> reporter: do you have full confidence in kathleen sebelius ?

>> i think kathleen sebelius , under tremendously difficult circumstances over the last four and a half years, has done a great job in setting up the insurance markets. so there is a good product out there for people to get. kathleen sebelius doesn't write code. she wasn't our i.t. person.

>> reporter: she's still the right person to do it?

>> ultimately, the buck stops with me. i'm the president. this is my team. if it's not working, it's my job to get it fixed.

>> reporter: brian, to reiterate, the administration is working on a policy. they are not going through congress. they want to do this themselves to figure out a way to keep that promise for people who like their plans they can keep it. they are trying to see if they can fix the loophole and keep the president's promise.

>> chuck todd with his conversation with the president at the white house . chuck, thanks.