Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., is the latest Democrat to sign onto a bill from a red-state colleague that lets people keep their current health insurance policies under Obamacare.
Democrats up for reelection in 2014 are in a tricky spot: They have to reconcile their support for Obamacare while having to do more than simply acknowledge that the rollout has been a disaster.
A bill from Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., addresses the problems that have cropped up during the Affordable Care Act rollout and has been gaining political traction in recent days. The bill aims to address individuals who have seen their health insurance plans canceled, and yet are having problems accessing the exchanges to buy new insurance.
Merkley, who is up for reelection in 2014, has been targeted back home over the rollout of the insurance exchanges. The Republican National Committee launched robocalls against Merkley last week, tying him to President Obama’s claim that Americans could keep their plans.
“I am very frustrated with the rollout of the exchanges,” Merkley said after last week’s White House meeting with Senate Democrats up for reelection in 2014. “The dysfunction and delays are unacceptable. After meeting with the president today, I remain deeply convinced that this is a ‘show-me’ moment.”
Other Democrats who have signed onto Landrieu’s bill are more predictable and come from red states where they face tough reelection fights, including Sens. Mark Pryor from Arkansas and Kay Hagan from North Carolina.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., also signed onto the effort, although she isn’t up for reelection until 2018. Both Oregon and California have state-run exchanges, but the rollout hasn’t been smooth there, either; a number of states have problems allowing people to sign up.
Obama has said he is looking for a “fix” when it comes to canceled plans, but health care policy experts say it’s unlikely the administration can do much on its own to fundamentally address the problem.
On Tuesday, former President Clinton also said that Obama should find a way to allow Americans to keep their old plans under Obamacare. “Even if it takes a change to the law, the president should honor the commitment the federal government made to those people and let them keep what they’ve got,” he told Ozy.com.
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"House Republicans are circulating the text of an amendment to their ObamaCare replacement bill that they believe could bring many conservatives on board. According to legislative text of the amendment," drafted by Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), "the measure would allow states to apply for waivers to repeal one of ObamaCare’s core protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Conservatives argue the provision drives up premiums for healthy people, but Democrats—and many more moderate Republicans—warn it would spark a return to the days when insurance companies could charge sick people exorbitantly high premiums."
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