WASHINGTON -- House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Thursday he was "highly skeptical" of President Barack Obama's plan to fix insurance policy cancellations under the Affordable Care Act.
Boehner spoke moments before Obama announced that his administration would permit health insurance companies to extend current plans into the next year, even if they don't meet the law's coverage standards. The announcement came after millions of consumers received cancellation notices from insurers, because their plans didn't comply with the Affordable Care Act's rules for benefits and financial protections.
Boehner dismissed Obama's ability to offer an administrative fix, and said the House would proceed with a vote Friday to advance a bill from Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) that would enable health insurers to extend current plans.
"No one can identify anything the president could do administratively to keep his pledge that would be both legal and effective," Boehner told reporters. "When it comes to this health care law, the White House doesn't have much credibility."
"I'm highly skeptical they can do this administratively," he added. "I just don't see within the law their ability to do it."
Boehner also said there was no way to fix the health care law, which has been the subject of much scrutiny after its botched rollout Oct. 1. In addition to the cancellation notices despite the administration's assurances that the law would allow people to keep their current plans, the administration has scrambled to fix the Healthcare.gov website. Consumers have struggled over the last month to shop for plans under the law's health care exchanges, and early enrollment figures released Wednesday fell far short of expectations.
The problems have caused unrest among an increasing number of Democrats, especially those facing reelection in 2014. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) introduced legislation similar to Upton's, although hers goes a step further by requiring health insurers to extend existing plans that fail to meet Obamacare's coverage requirements.
Boehner said he believed the solution was to "scrap this law once and for all," but conceded that both disagree on dismantling Obamacare all together. He called on "reasonable Democrats" to work with Republicans on a legislative fix, but demurred when asked if Republicans would vote on a plan to replace the health care law by the end of the year.
"This year is quickly coming to a close," he said. "I think it's too early to make that prediction."