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GOP on insurance cancellations: 'We told you so'

By Dana Bash, CNN chief congressional correspondent
updated 8:44 PM EDT, Fri November 1, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • GOP leaders noted possible insurance cancellations in 2010 as Obama said otherwise
  • Democrats now working to calm constituents whose insurance is being canceled
  • House Democratic leader admits administration should have been "more precise"

Washington (CNN) -- The White House isn't in damage-control mode solely over a bad health care website.

As the Obama administration is trying to calm concerns across the country from Americans being dropped from their current plans, Republicans on Capitol Hill are saying, "We told you so."

In March 2010, then-Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, came to the House floor as Democrats were poised to pass Obamacare and issued a warning.

"Look at this bill," Boehner said. "Ask yourself: Do you really believe that if you like the health plan that you have, that you can keep it? No, you can't."

Boehner's remarks are just one example of a Republican effort before the health care bill became the law of the land to push back on President Barack Obama's relentless sales pitch, like the one he made to the American Medical Association in June 2009.

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Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California, is the chairman of the House Government Oversight Committee. On October 31, Issa's committee issued a document subpoena to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for documents and information related to HealthCare.gov. "I've lost my patience," Issa said to CNN's Wolf Blitzer in explaining the decision to use a subpoena. Issa also said his committee has sent a document subpoena to website contractor Optum/QSSI. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California, is the chairman of the House Government Oversight Committee. On October 31, Issa's committee issued a document subpoena to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for documents and information related to HealthCare.gov. "I've lost my patience," Issa said to CNN's Wolf Blitzer in explaining the decision to use a subpoena. Issa also said his committee has sent a document subpoena to website contractor Optum/QSSI.
Key players in the health care hearings
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Key players in the health care hearings Key players in the health care hearings

"If you like your health care plan, you'll be able to keep your health care plan, period," Obama said. "No one will take it away from you, no matter what."

When the President made that statement during the heat of the health care legislative battle, Rep. Tom Price, R-Georgia, dismissed the commander in chief's promise in a weekly Republican address.

"If you read the bill, that just isn't so," Price said. "For starters, within five years, every health care plan will have to meet a new federal definition for coverage, one that your current plan might not match, even if you like it."

Fast forward three years, and that's exactly what's happening.

Insurance companies continue to drop Americans from their health plans, many because the policies they had don't meet the coverage requirements under Obamacare.

CNN Fact Check: Obamacare

3 states tell insurers to scrap plans that don't comply with Obamacare

The development has Democrats trying to calm concerned constituents by calling the ramped-up requirements a good thing.

"If we don't enforce this policy, insurance companies can continue offering flimsy coverage that disappears when people actually need it, and no one should want that," Rep. Henry Waxman, D-California, told peers during a congressional hearing on the law's rollout Wednesday.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius struggled to explain that some current plans are no longer available because they're bad for consumers and no longer legal.

"Many women are charged 50 percent more than men. That will be illegal," Sebelius said.

However, all this creates a problem for the administration because it's not what people expected when they heard Obama promise over and over that, "if you like your plan, you can keep your plan."

While Republicans remain eager to say, "I told you so," many Democrats are private regretful -- and frustrated -- that they left Americans with so many expectations that did not pan out.

The No. 2 House Democrat, Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, admitted earlier this week that his caucus and the administration should have been "more precise" in explaining not everyone will be able to keep plans they like, especially plans without mandatory coverage.

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