KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Congressional Democrats Fuming At White House Handling Of Health Law

An increasing number of these lawmakers say they favor a legislative plan offered by Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana to allow people whose insurance has been canceled because of the law to keep it. 

The New York Times: With Enrollment Slow, Some Democrats Back Change in Health Law
Anxious congressional Democrats are threatening to abandon President Obama on a central element of his signature health care law, voicing increasing support for proposals that would allow Americans who are losing their health insurance coverage because of the Affordable Care Act to retain it. The dissent comes as the Obama administration released enrollment figures on Wednesday that fell far short of expectations, and as House Republicans continued their sharp criticism of administration officials at congressional hearings examining the performance of the health care website and possible security risks of the online insurance exchanges (Parker and Shear, 11/13).

The Associated Press: Low 'Obamacare' Enrollment Causing  Heartburn For Democrats Looking To Next Year's Elections
The White House also is taking a more open approach to changes in the law itself. "We welcome sincere efforts," presidential press secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday at the White House as Democratic impatience grew over a program likely to be at the center of next year’s midterm elections for control of Congress (Espo, 11/14).

The Wall Street Journal: Obama Open To Health-Law Change
In the past, White House officials had said they strongly preferred an administrative remedy to the law's shortcomings. But on Wednesday, officials suggested that President Barack Obama was open to a bill by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D., La.), that would require insurers to continue offering plans that were in existence this year, even if that meant reinstating ones that had been canceled because they didn't meet the health law's standards (Hughes, Hook and Nelson, 11/13).

San Francisco Chronicle: Health Law Brouhaha Pits Feinstein Versus Pelosi
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a key architect of the Affordable Care Act, is trying to restrain nervous Democrats from backing a measure that could knock the foundations from under the law -- even as erstwhile Democratic allies Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California and former President Bill Clinton endorse similar changes. The changes would allow millions of people who bought health policies on the individual market, including 1 million people in California, to keep their plans even if those plans fail to meet minimum coverage standards under the new law. Insurance companies' mass cancellations of such policies since the law took effect Oct. 1 have been a public relations nightmare for President Obama, who promised repeatedly over the years that no Americans who liked their current plans would be forced to change them under his signature law (Lochhead, 11/13).

The Oregonian: Jeff Merkley Acknowledges He Failed To Foresee Wave Of Health Insurance Cancellations Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley, acknowledging that he failed to anticipate how the new health care law would lead to a wave of health insurance cancellations, on Wednesday  co-sponsored legislation that would allow consumers to keep their current policies if they want. Merkley, who is up for re-election next year, joined fellow Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu in pushing legislation aimed at reassuring millions of Americans who have received insurance cancellation notices as the new health care law goes into full effect in January. In a telephone interview, Merkley said that he and other supporters of the 2010 law failed to understand that it didn't have strong enough "grandfather" provisions ensuring that people could keep policies that existed at the time (Mapes, 11/13).

Politico: Senate Democrats Seek Obamacare Balance
Senate Democrats are trying to find a precarious balance on Obamacare by distancing themselves from the law's troubled rollout without running away from it. In dribs and drabs, moderates and liberals, endangered incumbents and lawmakers with safe seats alike are working to get on the right side of increasingly sour public opinion on President Barack Obama's landmark domestic achievement (Everett and Kim, 11/13).

The New York Times: Senator Manchin Takes On Democratic Party Leaders In Pursuit Of A Middle Ground
It has been that way all year for [Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.], a centrist Democrat from an increasingly Republican state who has shown an impulsive, almost reflexive, willingness to reject the position of his leaders and try to entice fellow senators to a middle ground. Now he is trying to delay parts of the new health care law, the latest effort by Mr. Manchin, a former governor and the grandson of an Italian immigrant, to engage on virtually every issue flaring up on Capitol Hill, just as he did in West Virginia (Weisman, 11/13).

The Hill: Vulnerable Dems Scramble To Keep Distance From ObamaCare
Vulnerable Democrats are scrambling to find ways to stand apart from the White House on ObamaCare as the rollout of the high-profile law continues to struggle -- and threatens their reelections. A number of red state Democrats in the House and Senate are rushing to embrace legislation to amend ObamaCare, seeking to improve parts of the law that have led to public outrage, and insulate themselves from attacks as they head into election year in 2014 (Joseph and Jaffe, 11/14).

Roll Call: Democrats Fume at White House Over Affordable Care Act's Troubles
A broken promise, plunging poll ratings and the disastrous start for have rattled President Barack Obama's party, and the impatient rank and file want solutions, not just an apology, from the commander in chief. "There's a brewing revolt among Democrats," said one member of the House Democratic Caucus who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to describe the scene at Wednesday's closed-door meeting, where members vented their frustration at White House officials for the rocky rollout of the Affordable Care Act (Dumain, 11/13).

The Boston Globe: Obama's Health Care Law Roils Democrats
The White House is scrambling to devise a plan to prevent hundreds of thousands of Americans from losing their health insurance as the growing political damage from President Obama's health care law threatens to divide the Democratic Party over his signature achievement. House Democrats berated White House officials during a private meeting Wednesday, imploring them to devise a way to stop the rash of insurance policy cancellations before they are forced on Friday to take a politically difficult vote on a Republican-sponsored remedy (Bierman and Jan, 11/14).


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