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Obama 'sorry' to Americans losing health insurance

President Barack Obama speaks at Temple Emanu-El November 6, 2013 in Dallas, Texas
President Barack Obama speaks at Temple Emanu-El November 6, 2013 in Dallas, Texas.

President Barack Obama said Thursday he was "sorry" for Americans who had insurance plans cancelled because of his health care law, even though he had promised they would not.

"I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me," Obama told NBC News in an interview.

Obama's mea culpa came amid a controversy over his repeated assurances that if Americans liked their existing health insurance plans, they could keep it under his signature health care reform.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans have since received notices from their health insurance companies that their policies will be cancelled.

The White House says that the policies were scrapped because they did not comply with more stringent standards required by Obamacare and that those who lost coverage would be able to buy better coverage under new health exchanges.

"We've got to work hard to make sure that they know we hear them and we are going to do everything we can to deal with folks who find themselves in a tough position as a consequence of this," Obama said in the interview.

But Americans worried about losing their health insurance have been frustrated in attempts to sign up for new plans under Obamacare by a glitch-prone website, which sparked chaos after Obamacare went live on October 1.

"The majority of folks will end up being better off. Of course, because the website's not working right. They don’t necessarily know it," Obama admitted, and said he would do everything he could to fix the Obamacare teething problems.

"I am deeply frustrated about how this website has not worked over the first couple of weeks. And, you know, I take responsibility (for) that.

"My team takes responsibility. We are working every single day, 24/7, to improve it."

The Obamacare debacle has mushroomed into a political crisis that has called into question Obama's personal candor and administrative competence and cast a shadow over an already difficult second term.

Republicans who opposed the passage of Obamacare have slammed the president over the poor rollout of the law and plan to use it to undermine Democratic candidates ahead of mid-term congressional elections next year.

"If the President is truly sorry for breaking his promises to the American people, he’ll do more than just issue a half-hearted apology on TV," said Republican Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell.

The veteran Republican told Obama that he should support a bill in Congress that has won the support of several Democratic senators as well as many Republicans, that would allow Americans to keep their health care plans in the manner that Obama first promised.

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