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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  • jefe68

    Update: Now my login wont work. I can’t even rest the password as I’m told I do not exist. Anyone wanting to see a litany of problems with the Health Connector site go to the Mass Health Connector FB page and there is a growing number of people who are unable to get an application done. This thing is a huge mess of massive proportions. And this is what GBH has on this?

    Where are the real journalist trying to get to the bottom of this fiasco?

    The Massachusetts Health and Human Services Secretary John Polanowicz is not even aware that the site is a complete failure. Really?

    So my challenge to Carey Goldberg and Rachel Zimmerman is to do a series on this fiasco. How is that the Massachusetts had a web site that worked OK and now it does not? How is it that 150 thousand people are going to lose their Commonwealth care polices in January and not one person on the state government is doing a thing about it.

  • Rebecca Haughn

    there has been a company out west that did cut their employees hours and put them toward the state. So get more in contact with we the people. Forcing this is not the way to do this at all.

  • jefe68

    This is all well and good. The Mass Health Connector site is not working very well.
    It took me over 5 hours to even finish my application and that was due to the site stoping, not processing information, and telling me I needed proof I was not incarcerated twice. I still have no response either in the form of an email or by mail mail if my application went through. This entire thing is a disaster in my view. It does not work, I’m not talking about the ACA, I’m talking about the how the changes to the Health Connector web site have basically made it useless.

    My insurance ends in January and I’m not even sure how I’m going to get anything to replace it in time. If my original experience with Mass Health is anything to go by it might take up six months to get this done.