UPDATE 2-Obama's task in easing healthcare woes may be easier said than done

Fri Nov 8, 2013 4:51pm EST
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(New story with policy experts and White House official's quotes)

By Karen Jacobs and David Morgan

Nov 8 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said the White House was weighing options for fixing problems with his signature healthcare law but it may be a complicated legal and logistical task.

Obama, who apologized in a TV interview on Thursday to those Americans whose insurance plans are being canceled since the law took effect on Oct. 1, is facing criticism from Republicans over whether or not he misled Americans by promising that if they liked their policies, they could still keep them.

After open enrollment began some policies were canceled because they do not meet new requirements called for in the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

There are a range of possible fixes to allow people to temporarily keep their plans, but many are logistically difficult, legally risky, or could undermine other parts of the law, according to policy experts.

"That's not a minor tinkering around the edges," said Ross Baker, professor of political science at Rutgers University. "That's a pretty significant modification that he would be required to make to make good on that promise. I think he's in a very bad position."

Also, if Obama fails to find a solution, he risks further damaging his credibility, which already took a hit in the rocky rollout of the online marketplace set up for millions of uninsured to enroll. The stakes are also high for his fellow Democrats, many of who are already frustrated that Obamacare woes are complicating their 2014 reelection bids.

In Thursday's TV interview, Obama apologized to Americans whose policies are being canceled by health insurers. He said he was looking at "a range of options" to help those people, but did not provide details.   Continued...