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THE MUSINGS OF A TRADITIONAL SOUTHERN DEMOCRAT

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Location: Douglas, Coffee Co., The Other Georgia, United States

Sid in his law office where he sits when meeting with clients. Observant eyes will notice the statuette of one of Sid's favorite Democrats.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Troubled Start for Health Law Has Democrats Feeling Anxious

From The New York Times:

Already under fierce attack from Republicans over the new health care law, President Obama now faces broad and mounting Democratic concerns that the troubled start of the insurance program will cut into the political benefit the party received from the government shutdown and cost Democratic candidates in next year’s midterm elections.

Many Democrats say the Obama administration must extend the period to enroll in new plans, given the continuing problems with website access. Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and 10 other Democrats have signed or endorsed a letter to Kathleen Sebelius, the health and human services secretary, pleading for more time. Ms. Shaheen told the administration officials on Thursday that she had a hard time taking them at their word because they had previously assured that the rollout was going to work.

Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, has teamed with Senator Johnny Isakson, Republican of Georgia, to draft legislation delaying until 2015 the imposition of penalties on those who fail to buy health insurance. In an interview, Mr. Manchin said the problems went well beyond the potential penalties, and included individual insurance plans being canceled for failing to meet the law’s coverage requirements and a lack of health care choices in some parts of the country.

“Everybody’s upset about the computer; you can’t get on,” he said. “They’ll get through that. They better be worried about having a product at the end and being able to have adjustments to the product that really work.”

He continued: “Affordable health care means trying to get more people insurance that had no insurance. Making people who had insurance buy a different product that costs more for less coverage? You can’t go home and defend that.”

The politics of the rollout are coming into clearer focus by the day. Democrats emerged from the government shutdown Oct. 16 sure that they would be the political beneficiaries of a Republican brand that took a beating from voters tired of the brinkmanship. But the problems with the website are sending Democratic reputations plunging along with those of their adversaries.

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