House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer acknowledged Tuesday that President Barack Obama and Democrats could have been more "precise" in their messaging that the Affordable Care Act would not force Americans to give up their existing health insurance policies.
The Maryland Democrat's concession comes as Republicans have accused the White House and health care law proponents of perpetuating a false narrative that nobody would be served a cancellation notice for policies with which they were perfectly satisfied.
"I don't think the message was wrong," Hoyer said at his weekly briefing with reporters. "I think the message was accurate, but ... clearly it should have been caveated with, 'assuming you have a policy that does in fact do what the bill is designed to do.'
"We used [the message] trying to allay the fears of people with group policies and those with significant coverage through their employer, which was the overwhelming number," Hoyer continued. "You could have caveated, 'unless you have coverage that's insufficient to accomplish the objectives of giving you quality healthcare.'"
Those objectives, Hoyer said, could only be met if "everyone ... take[s] personal responsibility" for their health insurance "so it [does] not become the responsibility of the public to assist them with their health insurance."
Some policies do not meet the minimum standard of coverage dictated by the health law and Obama and Democrats might have clarified, Hoyer said, that only policies that met that standard would not be penalized.
Rhetoric aside, Hoyer still stands firmly behind the law.
"What the bill is designed to do is give millions and millions, some 30-plus million people, access to affordable quality health care," he said. "It's doing it. That was the bill's focus."
Hoyer also said he did not "accept the premise" that "millions" of Americans are being told they cannot keep their existing health insurance policies.