President Obama is no stranger to Republican opposition, but after a major struggle to effectively implement the Affordable Care Act and utilize Healthcare.gov, his own party is beginning to express serious concern. On Wednesday, 16 Democrats in the Senate met with the president, Vice President Joe Biden, and other senior White House officials to encourage a speedy fix to the faulty health care website.
“The American people are frustrated with the White House’s botched rollout of the Affordable Care Act, and I am too,” Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor told Politico. “In today’s meeting, I told the President and Vice President three things: 1) fix the website immediately 2) address the problems with the law and 3) hold the individuals in charge accountable for these mistakes. I won’t let up until these problems are fixed.”
The 2014 midterm elections aren’t too far off in the distance, and those seeking reelection are worried that all of the Obamacare hiccups will impact their chances. As the LA Times reports:
One Senate aide, who asked for anonymity to discuss the private conversation, said it was clear the White House knows it has a "messaging problem," but not that it has "any immediate fixes to it, which was disconcerting."
Obama advisors are fighting a crisis of faith among Democrats as they try to muscle the marketplaces through the rough patch and into widespread use. Already, 11 Senate Democrats have signaled their support for extending the enrollment deadline, a delay that administration officials fear could lead to an unraveling of the larger policy.
White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough has personally led efforts to reassure balky Democrats, traveling to Capitol Hill and routinely talking with those up for reelection in 2014. But nervousness remains.
Jay Carney, White House Press Secretary, told CNN the president isn't worried about the Affordable Care Act turning into a liability for Democrats running in 2014.
“He’s not concerned about the politics of it,” said Carney. “He obviously campaigned on it in 2008. He fought hard to get the legislation passed in 2010. The president believes that delivering of access to affordable and quality care is policy that makes good politics.”