The vast majority of the country will be unaffected by the implementation of the Affordable Care Act next year, president Barack Obama says.

Affordable Care Act, Barack Obama, Obamacare, health insurance, health care reform law, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, CMS, Marilyn Tavenner, insurance exchanges, Max Baucus

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Obama: ACA implementation will cause little disruption

May 20th, 2013

WASHINGTON – The vast majority of the country will be unaffected by the implementation of the Affordable Care Act next year, president Barack Obama says.

“The main message I want to give to the American people here is — despite all the hue and cry and ‘sky is falling’ predictions about this stuff — if you’ve already got health insurance, then that part of Obama­care that affects you, it’s pretty much already in place,” the president said at a news conference. “And that’s about 85% of the country.”

Insured Americans need not fret over “implementation issues,” Obama said. Such concerns, he said, will affect a “small group of people, 10% to 15% of Americans — now, it’s still 30 million Americans, but a relatively narrow group — who don’t have health insurance right now, or are on the individual market and are paying exorbitant amounts for coverage that isn’t that great.”

He said the health care reform law was “working fine,” down-playing concerns that it could interfere with coverage or boost premiums.

Meanwhile, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that the application for coverage has been simplified and significantly shortened.

The application for individuals without insurance has been reduced from 21 pages to three, and the application for families was cut by two-thirds. The consumer-friendly forms are much shorter than industry standards for applications.

“Consumers will have a simple, easy-to-understand way to apply for health coverage later this year,” said CMS acting administrator Marilyn Tavenner (who last week was confirmed as CMS' full-time administrator). “This is another step complete as we get ready for a consumer-friendly marketplace that will be open for business later this year.”

Consumers will also be able to fill out one simple application to see their entire range of health insurance options, including plans in new marketplaces known as insurance exchanges, and to request tax credits to help pay for premiums.

“What we’re doing,” Obama said, “is we’re setting up a pool so that they can all pool together and get a better deal from insurance companies. And those who can’t afford it, we’re going to provide them with some ­subsidies.”

Consumer groups, employers and insurance companies have said for months that the White House needed to ramp up planning for the new insurance options. Consumers can sign up in October for coverage that starts in January. Some companies, particularly those with many part-time workers, say they expect to have problems meeting new requirements for employer-sponsored coverage.

Sen. Max Baucus, (D., Mont,) said last month many of his constituents were perplexed about the new law, and that the administration’s “education and outreach” efforts were falling short. “I just see a huge train wreck coming down,” he said.

Asked to respond, Obama said that most Americans would not be impacted and that they need not worry.

Conceding that some people might run into hurdles trying to get coverage, he said, “Even if we do everything perfectly, there will still be glitches and bumps, and there will be stories that can be written that say, ‘Oh, look, this thing is not working the way it’s supposed to, and this happened and that happened.’ And that’s pretty much true of every government program that’s ever been set up.”

The president’s remarks came just after the Kaiser Family Foundation issued a poll showing that many Americans were confused about the 2010 law.

More than one in 10 (12%) said they believed that the statute had been repealed by Congress, 7% thought it had been overturned by the Supreme Court and 23% did not know enough to say what its status was.