Obamacare Failures Leaving Democrats Very Vulnerable in 2014

Image: Obamacare Failures Leaving Democrats Very Vulnerable in 2014 From left, New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, Rep. Ann McLane Kuster and Rep. Carol Shea-Porter.

Sunday, 17 Nov 2013 12:57 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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The failed Obamacare rollout has slammed Democrats across the the country, and particularly in New Hampshire, which many consider "ground zero" in the political war that's brewing.

The three Democrats on the congressional delegation are facing angry constituents, reports The New York Times, and are finding themselves torn between remaining loyal to the White House and to dealing with the political fallout from the healthcare reform bill.

But on Sunday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi insisted that Democrats are not losing confidence in President Barack Obama’s ability to make the Affordable Care Act work. They don’t fear Obamacare’s effect on their chances in next year’s elections.

“I don’t think you can tell what will happen next year” when voters cast ballots in the mid-term elections, but “I will tell you this: Democrats stand tall in support of the Affordable Care Act," Pelosi said NBC’s "Meet the Press."

Implementation of the healthcare overhaul “is an issue that has to be dealt with, but it doesn’t mean, ‘oh, this is a political issue so we’re going to run away from it,’” she insisted.

Jobs will be the major issue in the 2014 campaign, not Obamacare, she said.

Pelosi dismissed the nervousness of some lawmakers.

“What I love about health care professionals is that they’re calm. And we must remain calm when we talk about the health of our country,” she said. “You can’t be knocked for a loop just because somebody is playing politics.”

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In October, Republicans were contending with the results over the government shutdown, but once the problems with the Obamacare website, HealthCare.gov, started multiplying, the pendulum began swinging the other way, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee was able to bring in $3.8 million in October, its best fundraising effort of the year.

In New Hampshire, the problems are multiplied. Since the legislature, which leans heavily towards the tea party, passed a law banning the state from setting up state health care exchanges, residents must rely on the Obamacare website, and only 269 people have been able to sign up for plans, although many people have already had their policies canceled.

In addition, only Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield provides services for state residents through the federal exchange, and that company is excluding 10 of the 26 hospitals in New Hampshire from coverage.

Further, Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan is fighting with the state's Republican-controlled Senate over expanding Medicaid coverage.

Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen this month started a push to extend the Obamacare enrollment period, and insists her efforts are not about partisan politics.

"This should be about fixing what has been a health care system in this country that for way too long has not worked," she insisted.

New Hampshire's two Democratic Reps. Ann McLane Kuster and Carol Shea-Porter are also facing attacks over the health law and Republican challengers, and both broke ranks with Democrats on Friday to join with 37 other Democrats in voting for a Republican bill that would reinstate canceled insurance policies.

The 39 Democrats were mocked by the National Republican Congressional Committee as being "political turncoats."

Shea-Porter, though, said she is still proud she voted for Obamacare, and she thinks "all the kinks will be worked out."

In Washington, Democratic leaders are also working to control the panic over Obamacare, with Rep. Steven Israel, who chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, distributing a memo telling House Democrats that several Republican efforts, including immigration overhaul, food stamp cuts and others will catch up to the GOP.

In states other than New Hampshire, Obamacare may not play a huge factor. For example, in Massachusetts, where Democratic Rep. John Tierney is facing off against Republican challenger Richard Tisei, the health care law has been working well for years.

Republicans are saying that even if the website is repaired, Obamacare will bring other issues, such as data breaches or tax penalties that are so complex they can't be fixed, which will also hinder Democrats' political efforts.

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