Dr. Tim Johnson’s Obamacare Podcast: Kerfuffle Over Keeping Your Insurance

Dr. Timothy Johnson, retired Medical Editor for ABC News, in the WBUR studios. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Dr. Timothy Johnson, retired Medical Editor for ABC News, in the WBUR studios. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Here’s the third in a series of health policy podcasts hosted by Dr. Timothy Johnson, retired medical editor for ABC News, focusing on the new national Affordable Care Act, Obamacare.

Today’s truth-squadding episode offers a little progress report on health insurance exchanges (they’re improving) and also delves into the latest Obamacare kerfuffle: how many folks may lose their current health insurance and be forced to seek alternatives.

Johnson’s guests today are John McDonough, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health; Dr. Gail Wilensky, a health official under the first President Bush and Larry Levitt, a senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Johnson kicks things off with a question stemming from President Obama’s statement that anyone who likes their health insurance can keep it, which turns out not to be entirely true:

“Either the president didn’t know what was going to happen or he cut a political corner,” Johnson says.

McDonough responds:  “There was an attempt to minimize the opposition and minimize concerns… and the truth is about 98 percent of any Americans who have coverage won’t see a cancellation or a bad choice.” He adds that anyone who is losing their insurance can buy new insurance, which wasn’t necessarily the case before the law. Still, he concedes, that “yes, the president could have been more precise.”

Wilensky is a bit more succinct: “Dumb mistake on the president’s part politically,” she says, noting that Obama might have learned something from George Herbert Walker Bush’s “No New Taxes” debacle. When a president makes a “simple declarative statement,” she says, he better be prepared to honor it.

To hear Johnson’s earlier podcast, listen here.

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