Vulnerable Dems huddle over health fixes

The White House took the rare step of naming more than a dozen Democrats it worked “in close consultation” with ahead of a Wednesday announcement about changes to the Affordable Care Act.

All of the Democrats the administration cited are up for reelection in 2014, and most are either vulnerable, or find themselves early targets by the GOP for their past support of ObamaCare.

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The administration announced Wednesday it would allow insurers to continue offering health plans that do not meet ObamaCare’s minimum coverage requirements. 

Prolonging the “keep your plan” fix to accommodate for President Obama’s broken promise about the law will avoid another wave of health policy cancellations otherwise expected in critical weeks before Election Day in 2014. 

The administration’s announcement of the delay singled out 13 Democrats that helped craft that change. 

The officials said Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), and Mark Udall (D-Co.) consulted with the administration on the matter. 

Warner faces a challenge from former RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie in Virginia, while Landrieu, who has consistently been a vocal critic of the botched HealthCare.gov rollout, is seeking reelection in deep-red Louisiana. 

Analysts had pegged Udall as vulnerable in Colorado, but Republicans early in the year had failed to settle on a viable challenger. That changed last week, when Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Co.) announced he’d be entering the race.

A similar story is playing out in New Hampshire, where Shaheen might find herself up against former Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.). 

Republicans have vowed to make ObamaCare the primary issue in the 2014 election cycle, and have already begun hammering Landrieu and Warner over their support of the law, as well as other vulnerable Senate Democrats like Mark Pryor (Ark.), Kay Hagan (N.C.), and Mark Begich (Alaska). 

And on the House side, the administration said Reps. Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.), Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.), Carol Shea-Porter (D-N.H.), Scott Peters (D-Calif.), Ann Kuster (D-N.H.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.) and Ron Barber (D-Ariz.) provided input, as did Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), who's running for Senate. 

Bishop, Esty, Scott Peters, Kuster, Sinema and Barber are among members of the new Democratic coalition that arrived in 2012, and are seeking to hold on through what’s expected to be a difficult environment for Democratic incumbents in 2014.

Of that group, only Bishop and Kirkpatrick didn't join Republicans in a Wednesday vote to delay the individual mandate, which the White House had already said it would veto. Esty didn't vote - she was in her home district of New Britain, Conn., where President Obama was delivering a speech about raising the minimum wage.

And Gary Peters is the target of the Koch Brothers in Michigan, whose group Americans for Prosperity (AFP) has slammed him in ads for questioning the testimony of a woman in and AFP ad who claims she suffers from cancer and has been adversely affected by the law.

In a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, a senior administration official said he could “understand why some folks could look at” the changes as being politically motivated, but insisted they were not made with an eye for boosting Democrats in the 2014 midterm elections.

“The motivation here is really to implement the law in the way it should be implemented,” the official said. “This is the right way to do it, I feel like we’re doing this the right way for the right reasons.”

The official said the administration made itself  “available to both parties,” but that Republicans, in the House particularly, are more interested in repealing the law, rather than helping to fix it. 

That point might be a ray of hope for Democrats in 2014 – polls show the public would rather Congress work to fix ObamaCare, rather than scrap it entirely.