Sick of defending the president’s (now-debunked) promise that if you like your health care you can keep it and forced to field angry constituents with cancelled policies who can’t even access the exchanges to buy a new one, some Democrats are considering jumping ship.
“Sometimes, they take us for granted; we’re out on the front lines fighting for this,” Tennessee Democrat Rep. Steve Cohen told NBC News on Wednesday.
As more and more people receive cancellation notices for insurance policies the president promised them they could keep, both Senate and House Democrats are signing on their support to bills that would fulfill the president’s promise for a year or two.
The bills are fueling Republican hopes that Democrats may be willing to vote against the president’s signature legislation—and behind closed door meetings, Democrats are telling the administration that they just might.
Speaking on Thursday morning, the president conceded – again—he let people down.
“I hear you loud and clear,” he said during remarks in the White House briefing room..
Obama proposed an administrative fix to reverse the cancellations: “Already people who have plans that predate the Affordable Care Act can keep those plans if they haven’t changed. That was already in the law. Today we’re going to extend that principle both to people whose plans have changed since the law took effect and people who bought plans since the law took effect.”
Shortly after the address, Louisiana Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu, who is sponsoring a bill to stop all cancellations while preventing new people from signing up for the sub-par insurance policies Obamacare prohibits, tweeted that she isn’t yet backing off her legislative approach.
But others, like Cohen, were pleased to have a solution to point their consitutents to.
In his address, the president also took a jab at Republicans whose proposals would do damage to the bill.
“I will not accept proposals that are a brazen attempt to undermine the law,” Obama said, adding: “I’m not going to walk away from 40 million Americans who can get health insurance for the first time.”
On Wednesday, the House Democratic Caucus met with White House officials, voicing their frustration.
The White House has promised fixes to the site, but House Democrats aren’t convinced. Many are considering voting for a Republican bill proposed by Michigan Rep. Fred Upton in the House would delay the cancellation of insurance policies for a year (while also allowing insurers to keep offering plans that were made illegal under Obamacare, so insurers could turn away people with pre-existing conditions if they so choose). That vote is scheduled for Friday.
On Thursday morning, Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. Mike Doyle said Democrats are telling the White House to figure out a fix—fast—or they’ll take action on their own.
“What we said to the administration is if you don’t give us something else before Friday, I think you’re going to see many Democrats as a way of sending a message to the American people and the White House that we believe this needs to be fixed, and it needs to be fixed now,” Doyle said on Thursday’s Morning Joe.
Doyle said Democrats felt they needed to keep their promises on healthcare—even if the Obama administration wasn’t going to.
“I watched many of my colleagues give up their seats for this bill because they thought it was the right thing to do, and I still believe that. So, you can imagine the frustration level that many of us have from this roll-out,” he said. “Many of us feel that we told the American people if they like their insurance they could keep it and we need to honor that.
“There were statements from the White House saying you would not lose your plan… on the surface, that’s what this vote is being looked at, is whether they were being honest or not,” Florida Democrat Rep. Patrick Murphy told NBC News on Wednesday. “The White House says that they’re going to come up with some sort of alternative to talk about. And I think a lot of us are anxious to see that.”
In the Senate, a handful of Democrats—many from red-states including Sens. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Mark Prior of Arkansas—are pushing forward similiar bills.
Red-state Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill hasn’t signed onto the Landrieu bill, but said there needs to some kind of vote.
“We’re going to have to take some kind of reparative action to convince people we are trying to fix it,” she said on Morning Joe. “There’s something we need to vote on that will allow some kind of help to the situation and it may be the Landrieu bill and it may be something else.”
On Thursday’s Morning Joe, Manchin said he hoped the president would consider the ideas Democrats are putting forward, but admitted he hasn’t seen much of that conversation in the past.
“I’m willing to work through this and I’ve put some things on the table and I would hope that constructively the White House would look at that,” Manchin said.
After prodding, he agreed that voices like him—a red-state Democrat who seems to be one of the few who can speak with both parties—have a place in the White House.
“I would just like to be able to give him my thoughts, I want my president, our president to do well. I think we all should,” he said. “Sometimes they insulate and draw back, it depends on their experience is. You take eleven former governors in the Senate? We’ve been through the wars. We could bring a lot to that dialogue and we want to do that,” he said.