Senate Dems want longer fix than Obama's

Several Senate Democrats on Thursday said President Obama should let people keep their canceled health plans for longer than one year.

While Democrats facing tough elections in 2014 said they were encouraged by Obama’s proposal, Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), one of the chamber’s most vulnerable incumbents, said he prefers a plan sponsored by Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) that would let people keep their plans through Dec. 31, 2015.

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Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), another Democrat facing a potentially tough reelection, touted the legislation she has co-sponsored with Udall.

“We think it should be a two-year transition,” she told reporters.

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), who has co-sponsored legislation with Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) that would mandate insurance companies allow policy holders to keep plans that they like, said Obama’s proposal “doesn’t go as far as I like”.

He said, however, that the president’s suggested fix is “a step in the right direction”.

Landrieu announced in a statement that she would continue to work on her own legislative proposal.

“I will be working today and throughout the weeks ahead to support legislation to keep the promise,” she said in reference to Obama’s promise made in 2009 that people who liked their plans would be able to keep them under the new healthcare law.

“I remain willing to work with anyone who wants to strengthen the Affordable Care Act and keep the significant promise that it holds for our country,” Landrieu said.

Earlier on Thursday, Obama announced he will order an administrative fix that could allow people to keep healthcare plans that fail to meet the minimum requirements of ObamaCare through the end of 2014.

The fix allows insurance companies to continue offering plans that otherwise would have been canceled under the law, but it does not require them to do so.

Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), the third-ranking Senate Democratic leader, said a solution from the administration is preferable to passing legislation in Congress.

“I think that the best way to fix this is administratively and I’m glad the president has done it,” he said. “The only way we’re actually going to get things fixed, it seems to me, so long as the House is intent on undoing ObamaCare one way or another, is by the administration doing things on its own.”

Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), a centrist Democrat who co-sponsored Landrieu’s proposal, called Obama’s announcement “a move in the right direction”.

Erik Wasson contributed to this story. 

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