White House still confident of current enrollment deadlines
WASHINGTON A rising tide of Democrats has begun voicing support for easing the deadlines and penalties of the Affordable Care Act, showing the first cracks in party unity against GOP opposition to the health care law.
Senate Democrats in conservative or competitive states are lining up behind proposals to delay Obamacare, citing problems with the glitch-plagued website.
Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., announced Thursday she supports delaying the enrollment period for two months and waiving the tax penalty for people who fail to enroll for the same period of time. The delay would “make up for time that is being lost” while the website is malfunctioning, she said in a statement.
Hagan’s statement came the same day the House held its first hearing into flaws in the website, and Julie Bataille, a spokeswoman for the agency managing the site, told reporters, “The system just wasn’t tested enough.”
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., proposed delaying the enrollment period, citing problems with HealthCare.gov.
Her plan was quickly endorsed by Democratic Sens. Mark Begich of Alaska, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana.
All five Democrats face competitive 2014 reelection races.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said he is drafting a plan to delay for one year the requirement for individuals to purchase health insurance.
A prominent 2014 Senate Democratic candidate, Michelle Nunn in Georgia, on Thursday endorsed delaying the requirement for individuals to buy insurance.
Growing support for implementation delays is a clear signal that Democrats “absolutely” see political vulnerabilities in next year’s midterm elections, said Jennifer Duffy, an elections analyst for the non-partisan Cook Political Report .
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., dismissed suggestions that the health care law is a potential political liability. “I think quite the contrary. I think it’s a great asset for Democrats,” he told Nevada Public Radio in an interview Thursday.
White House spokesman Jay Carney reiterated Thursday that the White House is confident there is enough time to address the online enrollment problems for individuals to meet the March 31 deadline. http://rochesterdemocrat.ny.newsmemory.com