PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — After telling Americans they could keep their old health plans — only to find some policies cancelled because they failed to meet higher standards — President Obama tried to make amends on Thursday.

“I completely get how upsetting this could be for many Americans, particularly after assurances they heard from me that if they had a plan that they like they could keep it,” the President said at an early afternoon press conference.

So the president will allow insurance companies to extend existing policies for one year — if that’s what policy-holders want.

“State insurance commissioners still have the power to decide what plans can and cannot be sold in their state but the bottom line is that insurers can extend current plans that would otherwise be canceled into 2014, and Americans whose plans have been canceled can choose to reenroll in the same kind of plan,” he added.

“I think it’s definitely a step in the right direction,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, a Forest Hill Democrat.

“A lot of us didn’t foresee a situation where the insurance industry could decide to just discontinue these plans and try to enroll people in more expensive plans,” Doyle told KDKA political editor Jon Delano.

Doyle says the problem was compounded when the website failed — so people couldn’t find the more affordable health insurance.

But not everyone agrees with the president’s action.

“I don’t think the president has the authority to do what he did — simply by executive order simply to change the law,” U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, an Upper St. Clair Republican, noted.

Murphy wants Congress to fix the problem — and Republicans, he says, have a plan to do that to be voted on Friday.

In the meantime, both Highmark and UPMC Health Plan say they’re reviewing the implications of the president’s announcement and whether they’ll be offer their old insurance policies to those who were cancelled.

Policy Cancellations: Obama Will Allow Old Plans (11/14/13)
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