November 14th, 2013
03:05 PM ET
1 year ago

Senate Dem leaders holding off on legislative 'fix' for insurance promise

Updated 4:17 p.m. ET, 11/14/2013

Washington (CNN) – The Senate’s second-ranking Democrat said President Barack Obama has put forward a sufficient measure administratively for addressing canceled health plans under Obamacare, adding that Congress didn’t have to act.

“There is no need for a legislative fix for this issue. Instead, Congress should continue to work with the administration to improve the implementation of the law and redouble our efforts highlighting and explaining what this historic law will mean for 40 million Americans without insurance,” said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois.

Although Senate Democratic leaders know there is a desire among many rank-and-file members of their caucus to pursue legislation to help people losing coverage, they intend to take what one Democratic aide called a “wait and see approach” for now.

“There is clearly a desire to do something, but also a willingness to see how this [presidential announcement] plays out,” said the leadership aide.

With many Americans holding a certain type of individual insurance now receiving cancellation notices, Obama said Thursday his administration wants insurers to extend existing coverage for a year.

In selling the Affordable Care Act to the public, Obama said previously that people who liked their plans could keep them under new rules. That turned out to be inaccurate and Obama has apologized.

But cancellations have energized Republicans, who did not support the law and hold up the issue as a primary reason why the country should reject the sweeping health care overall. They see it as a potent campaign issue ahead of next year's midterms, especially in races against politically vulnerable Democrats.

Obama said on Thursday there is "no doubt" that the fumbled rollout of the Affordable Care Act has put a "burden on Democrats" whether they are running for reelection or not.

White House officials made clear to Democratic Senators in a private lunch meeting on Thursday that they would like time for Obama’s fix to take hold before the Senate takes up legislation, CNN was told.

Before that meeting, Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-Louisiana, the chief Democratic sponsor of legislation in that chamber to permanently allow consumers to keep their health plans, released a statement saying she would move forward with the bill.

But at a press conference after the meeting, she was less insistent.

“The President's guidance was welcomed and well received. We still may have to fashion some legislation and we are going to continue to work in that regard,” said Landrieu, who is up for re-election next year in a competitive race.

Other Senate Democrats facing voters in 2014, like Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Jeanne Sheehan of New Hampshire, said they still want the Senate to act.

Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, a co-sponsor of Landrieu’s proposal, who is also facing voters in the midterms, told reporters he still wants legislation. But he is also willing to see if insurance companies are able to comply with the President’s new directive.

Senior Democratic sources admit to CNN that a big part of what is driving the desire for a vote is that congressional Democrats don't want to sit on the sidelines as the President makes changes to the law.

Instead, they want to be able to tell voters at home they are part of the solution.

Congressional Democratic sources privately admit another factor is that Americans have lost faith and trust in Obama, so Democrats worried about their fate want to stand on their own.

Beyond the politics, some Democrats say they don't think the substance of what he announced goes far enough in allowing people to keep health plans.

First, Obama's proposal would allow consumers to only keep cancelled plans for a year. But Landrieu and Hagan want people to have the ability to keep them indefinitely.

Second, Obama is calling on insurance companies to reinstate cancelled policies but not forcing them to do so. Landrieu's legislation would make it mandatory.

Although Democratic leaders understand the politics of the situation, there is concern that forcing insurance companies to allow people to permanently keep cancelled plans would undermine the entire health care law, because it would discourage young and healthy people with flimsy plans from going into the system.

Those younger, healthier people are needed to offset higher cost consumers, like the sick and elderly.

Separately, the House is set to vote Friday on a Republican plan that would also allow Americans to keep their insurance plans.

House Democrats also want to offer an alternative to keep them from having to vote for the GOP measure, which Obama opposes.


Filed under: Mary Landrieu • Obamacare • Senate
soundoff (48 Responses)
  1. Gurgyl

    Do you know three hour Hospital costs 18,000 dollars. You are crying on Obama, idiots. This nation needs ACA Law. Hospitals are worst than robbers. I am glad, glad, glad ACA is a Law. It has to be FIXED. That's all. GOP is gone to dogs. USA needs this Healthcare. Now cut down on premiums, bring cancelled insurers under this government-exchanges.

    November 14, 2013 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  2. Obama.LIED.gov

    Congressional Democratic sources privately admit another factor is that Americans have lost faith and trust in Obama, so Democrats worried about their fate want to stand on their own.
    -–

    It looks like Congressional Democrats are part of the 54% of the American people that don't trust Obama anymore and think he's liar. A day late and a dollar short as usual. Millions of Americans have already been personally hurt by your incompetence and the lies and incompetence of your leader. The Obamacare dog poop is stuck to you no matter how you try to wipe it off or change it. The American people will remember the fraud you forced on them next November. We simply cannot afford to have incompetent liars like you in high office. Only if you support the impeachment of the Liar-in-Chief will we reconsidered throwing you out.

    November 14, 2013 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  3. You Can Keep Your Plan If You Want

    Kay Hagan's poll number have collapsed. She is in the same boat as many other Democrats. Maybe they should start by actually reading the existing bill?

    November 14, 2013 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  4. just saying

    repeal obamacare or kiss your seat good bye mary. it is that simple. some stupid gimmick is not enough to save you at this point. btw, send your thank you card to obama.

    November 14, 2013 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  5. Tony

    Government (federal or state) cannot force people to stay in business. If insurance companies choose not to grandfather their plans, government cannot force them. Insurance companies have a choice because of the grandfather clause in Obamacare. If insurance companies choose not to use the grandfather clause, the canceled plans are on them, not on Obama.

    November 14, 2013 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  6. The HAM

    Can the Prez just change a law? This might be a Supreme Court issue...

    Fix it for a year... so the problem can restart along with companies dropping millions more because their plans don't measure up and the penalty is cheaper... this only get worse.

    If you are healthy, have a job making over 40K you are a fool to sign up... I think the 100 thousand who signed up shows that... betting the vast majority of them are unemployed... enjoy funding this mess....

    November 14, 2013 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  7. Bill from GA

    A legislative fix for Obamacare, gun background checks, immigration; not gonna happen.
    Not in 2013, not next year. Not until the repubs are removed from the ability to block laws.

    With luck, Congress can keep the government funded, anything else is wishful dreaming.

    November 14, 2013 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  8. wendel

    Are they worried about us or their jobs?????

    November 14, 2013 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  9. simplyput

    Great, now how about doing something about the *bait and switch* fraud perpetrated on the risk pool originally created by the ACA? There is no such thing as a $2K deductible anywhere, and Medicaid is not acceptable for people who don't take from the govt. Any ideas?

    November 14, 2013 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  10. Borderless

    Can you say "swing state Democrats"?

    November 14, 2013 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  11. bobo

    Two things..... 1. Why come out with this today? Is it cause the House is voting on a Bill to have people Permanently keep their plans? 2. How can one person.... even a President, change a LAW? How can he pick & choose what and when things can be added or subtracted from a Law?

    November 14, 2013 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  12. freedom

    These democrats voted this monstrosity into law – without one republican vote. Fraud and lies. They OWN IT.

    November 14, 2013 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  13. tom l

    It's a Civil War! How are the dems going to handle this infighting? Wowzer.

    November 14, 2013 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  14. just saying

    Tony
    Government (federal or state) cannot force people to stay in business. If insurance companies choose not to grandfather their plans, government cannot force them. Insurance companies have a choice because of the grandfather clause in Obamacare. If insurance companies choose not to use the grandfather clause, the canceled plans are on them, not on Obama.
    -–

    yes, the real game being played here. play for time, get by the elections and then try and shift blame to the insurance companies.

    do the american people need any more proff about the deceitfullness of obama and the democrats? the continuous tricks, lies, smoke and mirror bs to hide from and deflect from their failures. truly remarkable. in plain sight for all to see.

    November 14, 2013 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  15. Sniffit

    "No one seems to be talking about the millions we spent on the website."

    How about we talk about the $24B wasted on achieving absolutely nothing via a government shutdown? It came first in time, got far less press in the MSM than this website issue has and it was about EIGHTY TIMES as much money...just sucked right out of the economy...poof. At least the website money was spent on something that will eventually be fixed and was spent back into the economy.

    November 14, 2013 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  16. HenryMiller

    If the Democrat losers in the Senate had any sense, they'd agree to go with the Republicans to repeal Obamacare altogether.

    November 14, 2013 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  17. Donna

    wendel - Are they worried about us or their jobs?????
    -–

    Delay it for a year? Their jobs.

    If they cared about us, they would repeal Obamacare because the mega-train wreck is due to happen next year as tens of millions of Americans that get their healthcare insurance through their employer also start getting cancellation notices.

    This disaster just STARTED, it is far, far from over. It only gets worse, much worse.

    November 14, 2013 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  18. just asking

    The Real Tom Paine
    Yes, things were so great when you could be denied for pre-existing conditions.
    --
    then pass a two sentence law that prohibits it. almost everybody support this. you didn't need to wreck the healthcare of 270 million americans to do this.

    I guess holding an industry that has robbed us blind for decades to a basic minimum standard is really wrecking and controlling your lives.
    ---
    then don't pay healthcare insurance. that used to be choice but the demorcats are not about choice here for some reason. they are about forced consumption. and what gives the right of my healthcare choices and what i pay for to the government??? obamacare. before obamacare americans could choose their own plans and thus determine the costs and what they could afford. but it appears the government, obama and the democrats know my needs and finances better than i do.

    i and millions of other americans did not invite you and the government into our healthcare choices and wallets. obama and the democrats kicked down the door of our house and focred themselves into it. get out!

    November 14, 2013 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  19. Sniffit

    "This might be a Supreme Court issue..."

    Heckler v. Chaney. CNN won't tell you about it. Your pals over at Faux News and the radicalize RWNJ blogosphere won't tell you about it, but it's already been decided. What Obama has done doesn't come anywhere near the kind of egregious abuses of executive discretion that the SCOTUS has overturned in the past. That's not to say that the conservatives now on the Court wouldn't love an opportunity to conveniently ignore precedent and rewrite the law to further the GOP/Teatrolls' political interests...as they've done so several times already...but as far as existing law is concerned, they shouldn't.

    November 14, 2013 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  20. Silence DoGood

    Dems – trying to fix it.
    Repubs – trying to break it.

    November 14, 2013 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  21. Sniffit

    " I think the 100 thousand who signed up shows that"

    All it shows is that the website was broken, so people couldn't get on it, shop around, fill out applications and successfully enroll.

    November 14, 2013 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  22. The Real Tom Paine

    So, judging by the reactions of our esteemed right wing friends on here, we can safely conclude they still don't have any alternative suggestions. They sat on the sidelines doing nothing when they had the majority, sat on their hands when the legislation was debated, and are sitting on their hands doing nothing while people lose their insurance. This is their style of governance, doing nothing. Oh, I forgot they claim they represent the 85% cited in one survey stating they were satisfied with their insurance: since when you does anyone accept " satisfied" with anything? Yes, the dynamics of 2014 are driving this legislation, but I don't see a single Senate Republican offering anything in terms of ideas. The safe assumption is they have nothing beyond a few vague goals, not the means to achieve them.

    November 14, 2013 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  23. Sniffit

    "Only if you support the impeachment of the Liar-in-Chief will we reconsidered throwing you out."

    Name the "high crimes and misdemeanors". Note to GOPers/Teatrolls: Impeachment is not a way to push the reset button on election results.

    November 14, 2013 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  24. jinx9to88

    The good ole safe district the GOP gerrymandered so the do nothing Congress can just sit back and be proud of the 9% approval rating. Their are diseases with a higher approval rating than Congress.

    November 14, 2013 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  25. Obama.LIED.gov

    But how will Obama and the Democrats address all of their OTHER lies?

    If you want to keep your doctor, you can keep your doctor, PERIOD.

    You will pay $2500 LESS per year for your healthcare plan.

    It will cost $900 billion. (Try $2-3 TRILLION and climbing!)

    Taxes will not be raised on the middle class. (21 new taxes in Obamacare!)

    And there is that pesky $715 billion that was cut from Medicare to pay for Obamacare and all of the seniors that will be losing their Advantage policies.

    How about addressing all of THESE LIES as well????

    November 14, 2013 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
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