WASHINGTON

President Barack Obama, trying to quell a growing furor over the rollout of his health care law, bowed to bipartisan pressure on Thursday and announced a policy reversal that would allow insurance companies to temporarily keep people on health plans that were to be canceled under the new law because they did not meet minimum standards.

The decision to allow the policies to remain in effect for a year without penalties represented the Obama administration’s hurriedly developed effort to address one of the major complaints about the beleaguered health care law. It seemed for the moment to calm rising anger and fear of a political backlash among congressional Democrats who had been threatening to support various legislative solutions opposed by the White House because of their potential to undermine the law.

The Republican- controlled House is still set to vote Today on a bill by Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, that would allow Americans to keep their existing health coverage through 2014 without penalties – as well as allow new people to continue to buy the plans. White House officials say that would effectively gut the Affordable Care Act.

It remained unclear, however, just how much effect the fix delivered by an apologetic Obama will actually have. Though his proposal grants discretion to insurers to allow people to stay on their existing plans, there is no guarantee that insurers will do so, or that the states will allow such renewals.

Some state insurance commissioners caught offguard by the announcement said they did not intend to allow insurers to reinstate the policies. The Obama announcement also met a cool reaction from the industry.

“Changing the rules after health plans have already met the requirements of the law could destabilize the market and result in higher premiums for consumers,” said Karen M. Ignagni, the president of America’s Health Insurance Plans, a trade group.

Still, the president told reporters at the White House Thursday that the changes should allow many people to retain their health care plans for a year despite having received letters saying they could no longer keep their insurance.

“ This fix won’t solve every problem for every person, but it’s going to help a lot of people,” said Obama, who repeatedly took personal responsibility for misrepresenting the law and saying Americans who like their coverage would be able to keep it.



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