House Dems get tip-off on O-Care tweaks

White House officials briefed House Democratic staffers Friday on potential tweaks to President Obama's healthcare reform law.

The meeting was focused on administrative efforts, a House Democratic aide emphasized, and not the legislative changes being pushed by the Republicans.

ADVERTISEMENT
Still, the meeting reflects the growing concern among Democrats about the problems plaguing the rollout of the law's individual insurance mandate. 

It also highlights the defensive position the administration has assumed amid mounting pressure from Republicans and other ObamaCare critics who are accusing the president of breaking a central promise of the law: namely, if you like your insurance plan you'll get to keep it.

Instead, millions of Americans have received cancellation letters from their insurance companies informing them that their plans don't meet the minimum coverage requirements established by the law. The dynamic forced President Obama this week to apologize for the disruptions and vow to take administrative steps to ease the distress.

"I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me," Obama told NBC News.

"We've got to work hard to make sure that they know we hear them, and we are going to do everything we can to deal with folks who find themselves in a tough position as a consequence of this."

The comments have fueled the Republican push for legislation allowing patients to keep their current insurance plans. Sponsored by Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), the bill is scheduled for a House vote next week.

Despite the political pressure, however, Democratic leaders oppose the Upton measure. They argue that the number of patients who will have to change plans under the law is small – largely limited to those in the individual insurance market – and they will ultimately benefit by moving into better plans.

"It's normal for these policies to churn. … Almost none of these policies are held for more than two years," Rep. Steny Hoyer (Md.), the Democratic whip, told The Hill last week. "I don't think, at this point in time, a bill that I understand Upton wants to put in, is either necessary or practical."