"No matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise to the American people," President Obama told the American Medical Association on June 15. "If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health care plan, you'll be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what."
But today the president clarified that promise. It seems he wasn’t saying “no one” will take away any American’s health insurance – he was saying the government wouldn’t.
Which is not to say that the government wouldn’t create a situation where such a thing would happen.
ABC News asked how the president could make such a guarantee if the public run plan were cheaper, thus possibly enticing employers to enroll employees in that plan.
“When I say if you have your plan and you like it,…or you have a doctor and you like your doctor, that you don't have to change plans, what I'm saying is the government is not going to make you change plans under health reform,” the President said.
The president went on to say that, “Now, are there going to be employers right now, assuming we don't do anything -- let's say that we take the advice of some folks who are out there and say, ‘Oh, this is not the time to do health care. We can't afford it. It's too complicated. Let's take our time,’ et cetera. So let's assume that nothing happened. I can guarantee you that there's the possibility for a whole lot of Americans out there that they're not going to end up having the same health care they have. Because what's going to happen is, as costs keep on going up, employers are going to start making decisions. We've got to raise premiums on our employees. In some cases, we can't provide health insurance at all. And so there are going to be a whole set of changes out there. That's exactly why health reform is so important.”
Pressed on the question of whether a public plan is non-negotiable, that he won’t sign a health care reform bill that does not include it, the president said that it was not, at least not yet.
“We have not drawn lines in the sand, other than that reform has to control costs and that it has to provide relief to people who don't have health insurance or are under-insured,” the president said. “You know, those are the broad parameters that we've discussed. There are a whole host of other issues where ultimately I may have a strong opinion, and I will express those to members of Congress as this is shaping up. It's too early to say that. Right now, I will say that our position is that a public plan makes sense.”