House Democrats cool down after Obamacare meeting
November 14th, 2013
08:41 PM ET
1 year ago

House Democrats cool down after Obamacare meeting

(CNN) - What a difference a day makes.

On Wednesday, House Democrats lit into White House officials who couldn't explain how President Barack Obama planned to make good on his failed promise that Americans could keep their health insurance under Obamacare if they preferred.

But by Thursday afternoon, rank-and-file members appeared to have cooled down after a closed-door session with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough.

He walked them through the administrative fix the President unveiled earlier in the day to help people whose individual health policies are being canceled primarily over tougher coverage requirements imposed by the Affordable Care Act.

"I can say almost unanimously that our members were very pleased with the President's statement today that he would do what he could do administratively on this," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told reporters after the session.

She was referring to Obama's comments about his administration's temporary - for now - approach to remedy the problem by allowing people to hold onto their plans, if the insurance industry and the states go along.

House vote Friday

The Republican-led House, which sees the policy issue and the rocky rollout of the Obamacare website, HealthCare.gov., as proof the sweeping health care law as unworkable, will consider a bill on Friday to allow Americans to keep their plans. It also takes steps fiercely opposed by the Obama administration.

House Democratic leaders urged members to vote against the it. Although the GOP bill has some features similar to the proposal unveiled by the White House, Democratic leaders argued it was a step toward dismantling the health care law, Obama's signature domestic achievement.

Pelosi said Democrats plan to offer their own proposal on Friday, which will be "complimentary to what the President has done."

But that alternative does not have enough votes to pass.

Similar legislation has been proposed in the Senate, but the Democratic leadership is not eager to push ahead now that Obama has taken action and has signaled it is taking a wait and see approach.

A White House official said the one-year policy extension on cancellations is temporary that could go beyond next year, depending on how things play out.

The administration also said it is open to a potential legislative fix so long as any change would work and not undermine health care reform.

"We're not going to gut the law. We're going to fix what needs to be fixed," Obama said later on Thursday in Cleveland.

Meeting 'very impressive'

Maryland Democrat Elijah Cummings called the meeting with McDonough and his presentation "very impressive" and said he felt confident it would address concerns raised about people losing their coverage.

Another member said the mood at the meeting with McDonough was "vastly improved" from Wednesday's session with a senior Obamacare adviser, that they got answers to key questions this time.

At one point, members applauded McDonough's presentation. Questions focused on the proposed policy solution, with several pressing over how it would work in their states.

Cummings said he thought Obama's plan on cancellations was sufficient and that McDonough told them the White House had talked to the insurance industry and is not worried about companies being able to handle any changes.

McDonough's presentation also included two to three dozen specific improvements the administration had made to the website, which was designed to allow Americans to purchase insurance online. Three dozen states also have Obamacare purchase programs.

Virginia Democratic Rep Jim Moran told reporters instead of "rhetoric" at the meeting, Democrats were given "cold hard facts in terms of operational achievements."

Midterms a year out

The policy snafu and the problem-plagued website made House Democrats nervous that the health law approved with only Democratic votes in 2010 was becoming a big political liability with midterms a year out.

Heads "should have rolled" at the White House over the website debacle, said Rep. Nick Rahall, who also is skeptical of Obama's plan on remedying cancellations.

Rahall, who is regularly targeted by Republicans in his West Virginia swing district, told reporters on Thursday that the health care debacle is hurting him in his reelection bid.

He said outside groups are running ads against him on the President's previous pledge on keeping health plans.

"I'm going to have to respond," he said.

Rahall is reviewing the Republican legislative proposal. Asked if it helps him at home that Obama went out of his way to try to take the blame for the health law's shortcomings, Rahall said "not really."

Another Democrat facing a tough re-election race, Arizona Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, planned to vote for the GOP bill.

"I just support any reasonable solution that allows Americans to keep their health care plans if they like them," she said.

Obama acknowledged on Thursday that the Obamacare problems has put a burden on Democrats whether they are up for reelection or not.

Asked if the President's proposal gives Democrats in 2014 enough cover, McDonough told reporters, "This isn't about elections."

CNN's Lisa Desjardins, Dana Bash, Jim Acosta and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.


Filed under: Healthcare • House Democrats • Obamacare
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Liz the First

    Obamacare isn't the ideal fix for the health care problem in this country, that would be a single-payor system set out in 27 pages in the magnificent HR 676. but it is a step in the right direction that has helped, and will help, a great many people. if the repugs could possibly bring themselves to work with the adults in the room and engage in some thoughtful deliberation on how to fix this particular glitch, instead of spewing all the fake concern that people can't sign up and some are losing their policies, maybe it will be a whole lot better.

    November 14, 2013 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  2. Debbie

    Lots of political wa wa wa The roll out was deplorable but that doesn't mean the product is bad. All the whiners about keeping their insurance they can. Don't whine if you get hit with a $25K hospital bill your insurance wouldn't cover. For those who had no insurance this is a God-send. Next year at this time we will see if Obama-care works. In the meantime I'm still waiting on Speaker Boehners 2010 promise of jobs for GOP House votes.

    November 14, 2013 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  3. Evergreen

    Listening to all the hysterics about making healthcare in this country affordable, it's hard to believe this is the same country that put men on the moon and have machinery exploring the surface of Mars and the edges of our solar system. By today's standard, the space program would have been scraped within its first few months.

    November 14, 2013 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  4. yippeeskip

    Yeah, they got their collective butts chewed out ...no more PAC money for you!!!!

    November 14, 2013 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  5. ED1

    What are you smiling for you said to pass the bill so you could see what's in it you are one of the biggest jokes alond with Reid in DC and all your Democratic friends.

    Thanks for the continued support of wasting out tax dollars Nancy.

    November 14, 2013 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  6. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    Democrats have the reputation of being cowards who won't stand up to GOP bullies. It looks like they are ready to throw the President under the bus once again, rather than tell the GOP traitors to go to hell. Sad!

    November 14, 2013 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  7. Dianne

    I an appalled at the Democrats jumping ship after two weeks of trying to fix the website. Grow a backbone!

    November 14, 2013 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  8. Donna

    So the Democrats think that Obama lying and then laying the responsibility to fix this disastrous law at the feet of others (insurance companies and states) is a "fix"??? Seriously??? Absolutely NOTHING has been "fixed". This atrocious insane law remains fully intact.

    All Obama and the Democrats are trying to do is SHIFT THE BLAME for people losing their healthcare plans to somebody else. And then only for a year, in order to sleaze the Democrats by the next election, which is exactly what they have done for the last 4 years. Would Obama have gotten re-elected in 2012 if we all knew what we know now? No way! And the Democrats and Obama are playing the same games once again to con the American people yet again.

    Wake up America! You have the most dishonest, deceitful President and Democrat Party EVER. They lied to get this disaster of a bill passed and jammed down our throats and are continuing their lies and deceit to keep it in full force and destroying our healthcare system, YOUR healthcare system.

    November 15, 2013 04:35 am at 4:35 am |
  9. Steve

    Well now that the politicians are placated, how about sharing the great news with us? Especially those that have lost their insurance under this great plan.

    November 15, 2013 05:51 am at 5:51 am |
  10. Gurgyl

    This is just drama by GOP thugs. ACA is a Law, not going any where. Companies better revert their idiocy–or else, Obama may accommodate all insurance losers brought to Healthcare Exchanges at cheaper price. Still will not cost than Iraq War.

    November 15, 2013 06:16 am at 6:16 am |
  11. Jerry

    "House Democrats cool down after Obamacare meeting."

    Wow!!! What a shameless joke my fellow Democrats have become! If they continue to follow the Clueless One (Mr. Obama) and and Bobble Head Pelosi, Democrats are going to have even less credibility and lose big in 2014.

    But, what does it matter at this time! Period...

    November 15, 2013 06:25 am at 6:25 am |
  12. Cindy

    What a crock CNN, that is not what insurance companies and other media are saying. It is in fact the Dems that are attacking Obama's "fix".

    November 15, 2013 06:33 am at 6:33 am |
  13. king

    aahh here come the dems capitulating again. when will these folks get a backbone and stand up for the American people future. i wonder if when the repubs are successful on destroying obamacare and things goes back to the same old same old ways of the insurance companies raping the American people and setting them on the side of the road, if the American people will be satisfied. lesson independent voters their is a price to pay for ignorance, because we've been down this road already in 2010 and the bush administration.

    November 15, 2013 06:50 am at 6:50 am |
  14. A True Conservative

    Have you seen the latest Ocare ads?We can get FREE birth control!! How desparate can you get? It's pathetic what this nation and her citizens have devolved to......

    November 15, 2013 07:18 am at 7:18 am |