To Stay with Obama or Not? Faced with Fix, Some Dems Still Vow Legislative Action
But co-sponsor Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) said he’d keep pushing for the bill as “the problems with the website and canceled plans are unacceptable.”
“There are too many on the left who say that we shouldn’t change anything and too many on the right who say we should just repeal the entire bill.,” he said. I’d rather work in a bipartisan way to improve the law so it works better for Hoosier families.”
Sen. Dick Durbin, of Illinois, said legislation is no longer warranted in light of the president’s decision. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) went so far as to say he wouldn’t have offered the concession.
"If it had been up to me, I am not certain I would have made this decision, but the president felt it was important to do," Harkin said. "My hope, however, is that everyone who has received a cancellation notice will fully and carefully consider their options."
In most cases, Harkin said, those receiving cancellation notices will find that “the coverage that they were paying good money for is not worth the paper it was printed on.” If they enter healthcare.gov, he added, “they can get quality coverage – in some cases paying a little more, perhaps, but getting many more benefits."
Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), up for re-election in 2014, was especially vocal against the president today. He recently ditched his congressional health plan and signed up on the healthcare exchange, saying he wanted to experience the same challenges as his constituents.
“I am disappointed in how this has been implemented and rolled out. There have been too many people making decisions who weren’t coordinating with each other and not enough focus on how to make this system work,” said Begich. “At the end of the day we need happy customers and people should be satisfied with their health plans which is why I’m supporting a fix to law which will allow folks to keep their insurance if they like it. I support making it permanent so that families who have received notifications that their health plans are cancelled can continue to keep their healthcare if it works for them.”
The president’s announcement will likely have little impact on the House, which is scheduled to vote Friday on a bill from Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), the Keep Your Health Plan Act, which permits insurance firms to sell policies that fail to meet Obamacare requirements for one year.
The bill may need some Democratic votes to pass since conservatives may oppose the move, viewing it as a maneuver that might politically assist Obama and the healthcare law they oppose. But House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) doubts the president can resolve the situation unilaterally.
"No one can identify anything the president could do administratively to keep his pledge that would be both legal and effective," Boehner said. "I am highly skeptical they can do this administratively."
The House Democratic leadership opposes the bill and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.), chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, said Obama’s plan “is straightforward and fair – it will allow consumers to keep their plans if they like them. As a result of the president’s actions, consumers will have additional choices and the information they need to make an informed decision about their healthcare.”
Meanwhile, Obamacare, which has never attracted substantial public support, appears to be losing ground. A Gallup Poll conducted Nov. 7-10 found that only 40 percent of those surveyed approve of Obamacare while 55 percent disapprove.
Support for the law dropped four points in the space of two weeks. Gallup attributed the plunge to the reports that millions could lose their insurance under the law despite Obama’s promises.