November 14th, 2013
03:05 PM ET
12 months 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. Reggie53

    The democrats are more worried about their jobs than about Americans losing their healthcare. If they really cared about us, when the republicans brought forward a bill to postpone the healthcare act for a year then at that point they would have agreed to vote for that change. But no.....they followed what Pelosi, Reid and Obama continued to say that nobody would lose their healthcare policy or doctor. Obama does not care because he is not running again but these others want to keep their jobs and so they are trying to do something now to save their own. It is not because of us, it is because of them losing the votes to keep them in office. Please do not let them fool us anymore. Obama has been the worst president ever and I hope after he gone from office we will never see or him from him again. Maybe he should move back to Indonesia.

    November 14, 2013 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  2. Hector Slagg

    Well,
    Obama Care may be alright if tons of people didn't lose/lost their jobs. Just saw where Lockheed Martin is laying off 4000 workers. All because of Obama Care. That your idea success? What a huge mess. Time to get real and Repeal Obama Care.

    November 14, 2013 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  3. paulet

    It's the insurance companies stupid!!!!! Why hasn't this been brought up sooner I sit and watch and wait - well now the onus is on them as it should be. Obama didn't tell them to sell bogus policies (probably in the South) and now they can uncancel their policies or explain why. I will be that if these people are still in the business their will be some tap dance as to why they have a better policy rather than just taking their money for $$$ for 12 mos. The people who own these policies would have been better putting their money in a shoe box under the bed.
    What have companies doing for years they have the risk pool - the young and the older workers that is why when reorganization comes the older get the hand shake and more younger and unexperienced come in and then there are the contractors of which their is no health benefits cost - That is the way Insurance works and why some journalists hasn't featured this I don't know - probably the company has insurance money invested or vise versa.

    November 14, 2013 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  4. paulet

    oops pls. excuse typos and grammar on above

    November 14, 2013 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  5. Tman95

    " Instead, they want to be able to tell voters at home they are part of the solution." Well, one thing's for sure: They were difinitely part of the problem.

    November 14, 2013 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  6. Lisa P.

    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
    ------------------------------
    What do you mean by "There is no such thing as a $2K deductible anywhere"? I looked at some of the WI ACA plans - some deductibles were $6700, some were $600 (individual policy) and co-pays were all over the map. I've got group insurance so the deductibles all sounded kind of high to me (and I *know* the prescription drug co-pays were), but you can't say that people aren't being given a choice.

    November 14, 2013 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  7. TEAPARTY MIKE

    Obama's fix is not really a fix. Promise was if you like your plan you can keep your plan. Obama's fix is if you like your plan you can keep your plan for one more year. Promise is still broken, lie still stands. Plus same thing is going to happen to employer based plans just before the elections next year. Tens of millions are going to lose their coverage based on CBO estimates. Problem is not solved. Obama will have to deal with a Republican Senate and House over his last two years.

    November 14, 2013 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  8. Lisa P.

    Reggie53

    The democrats are more worried about their jobs than about Americans losing their healthcare. If they really cared about us, when the republicans brought forward a bill to postpone the healthcare act for a year then at that point they would have agreed to vote for that change. But no.....they followed what Pelosi, Reid and Obama continued to say that nobody would lose their healthcare policy or doctor. Obama does not care because he is not running again but these others want to keep their jobs and so they are trying to do something now to save their own. It is not because of us, it is because of them losing the votes to keep them in office. Please do not let them fool us anymore. Obama has been the worst president ever and I hope after he gone from office we will never see or him from him again. Maybe he should move back to Indonesia.
    November 14, 2013 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm
    ---------------------------------
    Actually, since he first started to campaign it's always been clear that one thing President Obama cares very much about is health insurance reform, because of what happened to his mom. He may not care much about you personally, nor will he fake personal concern like some politicians do, but one way or another he's going to change a system where customers are cherry-picked and sick people are left in the lurch so insurance companies can rake in obscene profits. You can bet on that.

    November 14, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  9. jinx9to88

    Wow people crying over getting a cancelation insurance notices. Wow, I got an idea pick the phone up call your insurance company and get a new policy. DANG THATS SO TOUGH!!!! We have people coming home from war that Bush Admin got us into based on LIES with no limbs that don't cry as much as these people. Grow up people its not the end of the world, the GOP seems to think it is.

    November 14, 2013 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  10. Name jk. Sfl. GOP CRUZ lee&rubio 24billion dallar LOSS of your tax money conservatives,the garbage of America.

    All I can say is the GOP has 0 creditibility on this issue. Now we are sopposed to believe the GOP cares about healthcare after having 42 votes to repeal the healthcare LAW.as I said, the GOP has 0. Credibility on all issues related to our president. Assa should do an investagation on how the GOP can have so many idiots in congress including himself. But don't panic people, the GOP will lose the house in 2014. As GOP the CNN polls, if you believe them Romney would have won in a landslide in stead of his train wreck!!!!!

    November 14, 2013 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  11. Silence DoGood

    @reggie53 " If they really cared about us, when the republicans brought forward a bill to postpone the healthcare act for a year..."

    Dems wisely did not fall for this. Repubs did not want to postpone, they want Obama to fail. Repubs do not want to help people, they want Obama to fail. Big difference. It was a bait and switch. If Dems accepted 1 year then it would be 2 years, if 2 then 3. Good move Dems.

    November 14, 2013 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  12. A True Conservative

    It never was about the American people.....it was always about the progressives dream for America. America where the few know what's best for everyone. The rest of us are too stupid make decisions that impact our lives by ourselves.......

    November 14, 2013 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  13. Data Driven

    "Legislative fix"

    In an ideal world, sure. Too bad we live in this one.

    Just bring down the hammer, Mr. President. You've already Executive decisions on Obamacare. Congress is useless right now: the GOPhers don't even want to pay our bills.

    November 14, 2013 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  14. Lynda/Minnesota

    bassman
    Lynda/Minnesota, you said you could no longer support CNN after Jake Tapper's interview with Sarah Palin. Not true to your word. Sarah Palin and Ted Cruz were mocked repeatedly for apposing Obamacare. We now see they were both right .

    To quote Rick Perry: "Oops."

    Well, bassman. I suppose I could emulate others' on the ticker and simply change my name.

    November 14, 2013 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  15. Data Driven

    @A True Conservative,

    "The rest of us are too stupid make decisions that impact our lives by ourselves......."

    When I read comments from people who come to political blogs asking us to help them with their insurance decisions, I can only agree with you.

    November 14, 2013 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  16. Obama.LIED.gov

    Sniffit
    Name the "high crimes and misdemeanors".
    ---

    Massive FRAUD, massive MISREPRESENTATION, massive BAIT & SWITCH pertretrated on tens of millions of American citizens.

    Note to GOPers/Teatrolls: Impeachment is not a way to push the reset button on election results.
    ---
    Yeah well that election was won based on massive fraud, massive misrepresentation and massive bait and switch. Lying to the American people in such a massive and intention way should never be tolerated.

    November 14, 2013 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  17. The Elephant in the Room

    It's my understanding that Fred Upton, the Gop'er that is seeking to sneak a TROJAN HORSE bill pass American citizens to attacxk the ACA has recieved his BIGGEST campaign donations from Blue Cross / Blue Shield. Any smart American knows that you have to FOLLOW THE MONEY to understand the motivations and intentions of a politician. Are we to believe thT UIpton is advocate for the common man or the isurance induistry with his bill?

    November 14, 2013 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  18. The Real Tom Paine

    -A True Conservative

    It never was about the American people.....it was always about the progressives dream for America. America where the few know what's best for everyone. The rest of us are too stupid make decisions that impact our lives by ourselves.......
    *****************
    its sounds more like the conservative vision:

    " Go out and enjoy yourselves this weekend: I'll tell you what you need to know on Monday."

    -Rush Limbaugh

    With the Right's policies of more money flowing to the top, we were well on our way to becoming a Latin American oligarchy. (Hunger Games, anyone?) I guess there is nothing worse than holding one sixth of the conomy accountable to a general standard of fairness for the consumer, namely us. after systematically ripping us off for decades.

    November 14, 2013 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  19. don in albuquerque

    Here's a plan. Let all those 4 or 5% keep worthless policies and then when they need them and discover they really don't pay anything............well, no bankruptcy. You simply owe that money for the rest of your life, you are hounded daily by collection agencies, you can't buy anything because your credit is ruined for life, and the interest on what you owe continues to grow on a daily basis ensuring that you NEVER are able to pay it off. But you got to keep your policy.

    November 14, 2013 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  20. tom l

    @Data
    Toothpaste is out of the tube. The president can't fix this one. He can't magically go back to the insurance companies, who have actuaries for next year already in place based on the current ACA plan and there's just no way to change that. This is not the insurance companies fault, either. They did what they had to do to comply with the law. I know that people like Sniffit will try to spin it that way but they were complying with the law of the land and there's no way out of it now.

    Not to mention the fact that he is president, not king. He cannot unilaterally go in and change the law like that. Let me put it another way to give you perspective; say that Romney had won the election, would he have been able to unilaterally said the ACA was not the law? Of course not. Because Romney would not have been the king either, he would have just been the president. I know you would be uncomfortable with any one person having that kind of power no matter whether he was on your side or not.

    November 14, 2013 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  21. NC The New Armpit of the South

    @paulet–well said and it is the truth.

    November 14, 2013 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  22. The Real Tom Paine

    -Obama.LIED.gov

    Sniffit
    Name the "high crimes and misdemeanors".
    -

    Massive FRAUD, massive MISREPRESENTATION, massive BAIT & SWITCH pertretrated on tens of millions of American citizens.

    Note to GOPers/Teatrolls: Impeachment is not a way to push the reset button on election results.
    -
    Yeah well that election was won based on massive fraud, massive misrepresentation and massive bait and switch. Lying to the American people in such a massive and intention way should never be tolerated.
    ******************
    Dead bodies in Iraq as the result of false intel trump your claims any day. I also remember Reagan swearing that tax cuts would pay for themselves, and they did not. They also never generated a single job, yet enough people like yourself swallowed that poison pill, to our everlasting woe.

    November 14, 2013 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  23. Silence DoGood

    @A True Conservative "It never was about the American people.....it was always about the progressives dream for America. America where the few know what's best for everyone. The rest of us are too stupid make decisions that impact our lives by ourselves......."

    Unlike the Glorious Vision of Freedom from the radical Right morality laws:
    – telling women what to do with their body
    – telling us what prayer to pray in public
    – telling children not to believe science in school but study the One True Faith
    – telling us corporations will take care of us and always do Right
    – telling us we WILL become a Christian Country regardless of who lives here

    November 14, 2013 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
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