Sen. Joe Manchin: Obamacare 'meltdown' could hurt Democratic Party 2014

Sen. Joe Manchin: Obamacare 'meltdown' could hurt Democratic Party 2014

Washington : DC : USA | Dec 23, 2013 at 10:00 AM PST
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Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has warned that if the problems with implementing the Obama administration’s health care reform law are not resolved in time and people are not satisfied with the product, it could suffer a "complete meltdown," making it difficult for the Democratic Party to retain control of the Senate in 2014 or make any gains in the House of Representatives.

He told the CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday that "If it’s so much more expensive than what we anticipated, and if the coverage is not as good as what we’ve had, you’ve got a complete meltdown at that time ... It falls of its own weight, if basically the cost becomes more than we can absorb, absolutely."

Manchin is among Democrats who have been critical of the administration's health care law although he is not up for reelection in 2014.

The senator had called for a one year delay of the law's individual mandate after the bungled rollout of the website. He repeated his call for a delay of the mandate, saying, “Don’t say this is what you’ve got to buy, whether you like it or not, and you’re going to pay more even though you didn’t think you were."

His comments reflect the anxieties of Democrats who are facing formidable reelection challenge and are thus apprehensive that the law could scuttle their chances of reelection in 2014.

He acknowledged that Democrats who are up for reelection in 2014 are the ones bearing the burden of the administration's poor handling of the rollout of the ACA.

He said, "It needs to turn around. I'm not going to say that I think we will lose it (the Senate). It's going to be extremely challenging. We have some very good people who are truly there, I believe, for the right reason. They're going to be challenged for the wrong reason."

Republicans are hoping they would be able to take advantage of the problems with implementing the law to gain control of the Senate.

MSNBC reports that Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) is already being targeted for attack in ad releases by the conservative group American for Prosperity over her support for the law.

According to Allvoices, Landrieu and other Democrats facing tough reelection challenge in 2014 have supported and sponsored bills that would allow concumers whose policies were cancelled under the administration's health care reform law to keep them.

Even after Obama announced a non-legislative fix to address the uproar over cancellation of individual policies that did not meet requirements under the ACA, many Democrats insisted that they would proceed with proposals which will allow consumers to keep their policies.

If the problems with the ACA persist not only Democratic members of Congress will be attempting to distance themselves from the law, Democratic presidential candidates such as Hillary Clinton would also be anxious not to be associated with the failure of the law.

The administration relaunched the federal exchange in December after an initial botched roll-out in October and has been working to improve the public image of the program amid plunging approval numbers for President Obama.

At a press conference Friday, Obama admitted that his administration bungled the rollout of its signature health reform law. Despite efforts of the administration to repair the website many other problems remain, such as middle income consumers complaining about the cost of premiums and saying they are being forced to pay higher premiums for new plans under the ACA after their previous individual plans were cancelled.

To address the complaints the Obama administration announced Thursday ahead of the Dec. 23 deadline that millions of Americans whose individual insurance plans were cancelled under ACA would be granted "hardship exemption" and thus would be excluded from the law's individual mandate.

Allvoices reported that Health and Human Services (HHS) cheif Kathleen Sebelius said the change to ACA requested by six Democratic senators makes those whose plans had been cancelled now eligible to purchase barebones plans which provide less coverage than the bronze, silver and gold plans.

At Friday's press conference, Obama said that more than a million people have signed up for insurance coverage through the federal and state exchanges.

Consumers who sign up successfully for coverage before Dec. 23 will have insurance coverage starting Jan. 1.

The administration’s poor image resulting from the bungled rollout could still benefit from the latest reports on the performance of the US economy that paint a bright picture.

According to the latest data released by the Commerce Department, the economy returned the highest growth rate in almost two years,

Official data also show a falling budget deficit, a rising stock market, home values and increasing consumer spending.

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Joe Manchin
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.)
JOHN-THOMAS DIDYMUS is based in Lagos, Lagos, Nigeria, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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