Opinion

October 27, 2013

Even some Democrats now worried about Obamacare

The federal government partially shut down for 16 days earlier this month because Democrats would not accept a Republican effort to delay Obamacare for one year.

Now, an increasing number of Democrats are calling for major provisions of Obamacare to be postponed.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., says he will introduce legislation to delay for one year the requirement that individuals have health insurance or face financial penalties. That proposal has gotten support from a number of other prominent Democrats, including Georgia U.S. Senate candidate Michelle Nunn and U.S. Rep. John Barrow of Augusta.

In calling for a delay of the individual mandate, Barrow noted that President Barack Obama had already unilaterally delayed a part of the law that required companies with the equivalent of 50 or more full-time workers to provide health insurance.

“At the very least, our constituents deserve the same relief that businesses got,” said Barrow.

Indeed, the administration has delayed about two dozen parts of the law.

Most of the Democrats calling for delaying Obamacare represent conservative or moderate states and congressional districts, where the law has never been that popular. But they have also undoubtedly become concerned by the rollout of the federal exchange website, which is supposed to allow those without insurance to buy it. The site has been plagued with problems since it opened almost four weeks ago. On the front end, users still report trouble even signing up on the site, much less using it to shop for insurance. On the back end, insurance companies report it is giving them incomplete or inaccurate information about the people who have signed up for insurance.

Those Democrats who are now calling to delay Obamacare also have to be alarmed by reports that insurance companies, consultants and technical experts were warning months ago that the system wouldn’t be ready and their warnings were ignored. And they have to be alarmed at reports that the government gave the system only the most cursory testing before opening it up.

For now, Democrats calling for delays in Obamacare remain in the minority in their party. The president, in particular, seems unwilling to admit there are any serious flaws in the law. But if the problems aren’t corrected soon, in the next few weeks expect the calls to delay the law to grow.

 

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