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President On Obamacare: ‘We Screwed It Up'; Changes Made Prior To Deadline

The Uninsured Can Avoid Fines, Sign Up For Catastrophic Care Coverage
President Barack Obama delivers remarks at an Organizing for Action "Obamacare Summit" at the St. Regis Hotel on November 4, 2013 in Washington, D.C.  (credit: Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama delivers remarks at an Organizing for Action “Obamacare Summit” at the St. Regis Hotel on November 4, 2013 in Washington, D.C. (credit: Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images)

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For more information about the Affordable Care Act, visit CBSNewYork.com/ACA.

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The clock is ticking toward a Monday deadline to enroll in Obamacare, and the White House has approved another round of changes to get more people into the program.

The last-minute changes to the Affordable Care Act would offer yet another new option to get people to sign up, and Friday afternoon President Barack Obama frankly admitted that the rollout may be one of his biggest mistakes, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported.

“Obviously, we screwed it up,” Obama said.

He offered an admission of culpability and then a pledge to do more to retool his universally panned affordable health care law known as Obamacare.

“I’m going to be making appropriate adjustments once we get though this year,” Obama said.

The deadline for signing up for Obamacare looms large on Monday and the White House has approved several last-minute changes that would spare some people from being fined if they don’t sign up and to allow others to sign up for catastrophic care.

“We would actually like to have catastrophic insurance. That’s what we would take, but they don’t even give us that option,” Middletown, N.J. resident Beverly Cena said.

Earlier this week, Cena said her family was considering going without insurance because the premium for her family were just too high – more than $400 a month.

But now the White House is caving, providing just that option. In a last-minute change, people who lost their insurance, like Cena, may not be able to sign up for cheaper catastrophic coverage plans. The bare bones policies come with lower premiums, but also higher deductibles and limited benefits.

“For all the challenges we’ve had, more than half a million Americans have enrolled on healthcare.gov in the first three weeks of December alone,” Obama said.

But healthcare.gov was down for part of the day Friday as technicians tried to fix a glitch. It was bad timing for the balky website to crash. The deadline to sign up is Monday and heavy traffic on the site is expected this weekend.

“Millions of Americans, despite the problems with the website, are now poised to be covered by quality affordable health insurance,” Obama said.

The changes to the plan are expected to impact half a million people, but the insurance industry fears it could be many more.

The Department of Health and Human Services has set up a hotline for people who got cancellations — 1-866-837-0677.

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