The New York Times: “In a closed-door meeting Wednesday of House Democrats and White House officials, tensions flared as several lawmakers upbraided the administration, saying that the president had put Democrats in a tough political position by wrongly promising consumers that they could keep their existing health care plans.” Rep. Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania: “I’m frustrated in how it rolled out, and I let them know in no uncertain terms. The point I was making in caucus to the administration is don’t give us this techno-babble that you’re going to do some administrative fix down the road. There’s a bill being put on the floor on Friday.” He added, “I think the Upton bill is terrible, but we need something else to vote for in order to keep our word to the American people. We told people in those plans that they were grandfathered in, and if they wanted to stay in them, they could, and we need to honor that.”
John Yarmuth (D-KY) told Buzzfeed: “There’s overwhelming frustration, and I don’t know if I’d call it a rift, but there are a lot of people who feel like they will vote for the Upton bill unless there’s some viable alternative offered by the administration, like tomorrow.” He added, “You have President Obama saying something has to be done, you have President Clinton saying something has to be done, it’s kind of hard for House Democrats, in my opinion, to say we’re not going to avail ourselves of the one option that’s available to us to get it done.”
The bottom line is Democrats don’t like the Upton bill, the insurance industry doesn’t like the bill, but the White House has not endorsed or put forward any alternate. The Times: “With no alternative proposal from the White House as of Wednesday, Democrats were increasingly critical. ‘This has been a complete embarrassment,’ Representative Patrick Murphy, Democrat of Florida, said. ‘It doesn’t matter what party you are. The focus needs to be how do we get this right.’”
Jim Moran (D-VA) told Buzzfeed he’d bet the farm, if he had a farm that the website won’t be working properly by the end of the month: “The frustration is they are setting up deadlines they know they can’t meet. They are not going to meet the Nov. 30 deadline, I would bet anything on that. If I had a farm I’d bet the farm on that.”
Politico calls it “fight or flight” time for Democrats.
Norm Ornstein throws cold water on Republican opposition to the Affordable Care Act, noting that people have been paying for a long time as part of group plans for things they don’t need – like maternity coverage when they’re older or “for all kinds of coverage for ailments that hit those in their 60s but were not at all relevant for me.” That’s not something “new” because of “Obamacare.” He adds, “For every unfortunate story now of an individual losing his or her existing plan—each of whom will get replacement coverage, albeit some with higher costs—there are stories of those who discovered after it was too late that the coverage was not there when they needed it, or was canceled because of a real or imagined preexisting condition. Creating a base of coverage to protect those from disaster, to ensure that basics of insurance routinely made available to those of us in groups are there for those not in groups, is not some horror of big government run rampant but a rational and humane way to create basic national standards.”
And he concludes: “If you think about it, it would be in the interest of conservatives who believe in the magic of markets to make this system work. If it can be demonstrated that real competition in a real marketplace offers good services at lower overall costs, that adds powerful ammunition to the case for free markets. Let’s face it: The unrelenting opposition to all parts of the law, as reflected not just in critiques like Krauthammer’s but also in the more vapid and confused attacks by Sarah Palin and others, is far more about Barack Obama than it is about the structure and nature of the Affordable Care Act.”
AP: “President Barack Obama is taking his economic message to Ohio, using a Cleveland steel plant as the setting to promote his energy efficiency, business attraction and auto industry policies. Obama is also likely to address the status of the health care law after his administration announced that only 26,794 people enrolled for insurance on the trouble-plagued federal website during October. In a bright spot for Obama, Ohio Gov. John Kasich is one of a few Republican governors to take advantage of the law’s Medicaid expansion to reach more low-income Americans. … Obama later will attend a political fundraiser in Philadelphia.”
First Read: Obama administration officials noted on the health-care law conference call, announcing 106,000 sign ups for the Affordable Care Act that they are ahead of the sign-up pace when Massachusetts' law went live. So what are they referring to? Just 123 people signed up in the first month of the Massachusetts law being available for subsidized plans, which turned out to be 0.3% of the total first-year enrollment. The 106,000 total sign ups for the Affordable Care Act would be 1.5% of the Congressional Budget Office's projected seven-million figure.
The New York Times has a graphic breaking down how many people signed up state by state.
AP: “President Barack Obama told Native American leaders Wednesday that he will make his first trip as president to Indian Country next year, expanding on his vow to enhance the bond between the federal and tribal governments.”
USA Today: “In signing a bill to help schools battle food allergy attacks, President Obama on revealed a personal reason for his support. ‘Some people may know that Malia actually has a peanut allergy,’ Obama said in a statement Wednesday night. ‘She doesn't have asthma, but obviously making sure that EpiPens are available in case of emergency in schools is something that every parent can understand.’”