The PJ Tatler

Obama Pulls Healthcare Execs Into Closed-Door 'Brainstorming' Session

In mid-October, healthcare CEOs frustrated with the Obama administration’s glitchy exchange website were invited to the White House to air their grievances — to Valerie Jarrett.

This afternoon, President Obama joined the follow-up meeting with healthcare execs behind closed doors in the Roosevelt Room.

Obama was flanked by Marilyn Tavenner, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and Chief of Staff Denis McDonough.

“I want to welcome the executives who are here from a lot of the insurance companies that are participating in the marketplace,” Obama said before the meeting. “We all share a similar value, which is we want to make sure that Americans have good, solid coverage that gives them the security they need for themselves and their family members if and when they get sick.”

The names of the insurance executives present weren’t released by the White House — though they were released at the Jarrett meeting — and the press pool was shooed out of the room after Obama’s remarks.

“We had, despite all the problems with the website, over a million people apply. Many multiples of that wanted to see what options were available. Obviously because of the problems with the website some folks have been blocked from seeing the well-priced benefits that are available in the marketplace, and so we’re working 24/7 to get it fixed. The website is working a lot better now than it was a couple of weeks ago,” Obama continued.

The president said the meeting would consist of “brainstorming on how do we make sure that everybody understands what their options are.”

“Because of choice and competition, a whole lot of Americans who’ve always seen health insurance out of reach are going to be in a position to purchase it. And because of the law, we’re also going to be able to provide them help even if they are still having trouble purchasing that insurance. But they’ve got to know what those options are in order to be successful,” he said.

“So I appreciate all these folks coming in. We’re going to be soliciting ideas from them. There’s going to be a collaborative process. We want to make sure that we get this done so that in the years to come every American is going to have the kind of affordable health care that they all deserve.”

There was no indication that Obama intended to talk to the healthcare companies about letting people keep their old plans. In announcing the administrative fix to defer enforcement on plans that don’t meet new minimum coverage standards, White House officials made clear that companies would be under no obligation to give back canceled plans to customers.

In Obama’s weekly address Saturday morning, he’ll try to steer the conversation away from healthcare.