Vulnerable Dems push ObamaCare changes

 

Six Senate Democrats up for reelection or hailing from red states proposed legislation on Thursday aimed at changing parts of the Affordable Care Act.

ADVERTISEMENT
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), whom Republicans view as one of the most vulnerable Democrats in the Senate, is leading the effort, and is joined by Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Mark Begich (D-Alaska), both of whom are facing difficult reelection races in 2014.

Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Angus King (I-Maine) are also on board with the legislation. Those three faced tough challenges in 2012 and come from states that are either conservative-leaning or have strong independent streaks.

In a statement, Landrieu made clear that she stands behind ObamaCare, but said it’s “not perfect,” and that the proposals would address concerns she’s heard from constituents.

“I hear stories every day from individuals, families, and small businesses in Louisiana about how the Affordable Care Act is actually working to provide for first time quality and affordable choices in the health insurance marketplace,” Landrieu said. 

“They often tell me that they are extremely happy that this is coverage they can finally count on. However, from some constituents I have picked up a few recommendations about how this law can work better. As I have said from the beginning, the Affordable Care Act is not perfect. No law is.”

The first bill from the group of Democrats would add a new, cheaper option, a copper plan, to ObamaCare’s existing menu of platinum, gold, silver and bronze plans. The bill also seeks to spur competition in the marketplaces by restoring funding to nonprofit healthcare co-ops.

The second bill would expand tax credits to small businesses. It would also expand the option for voluntary healthcare coverage from employers with 50 or fewer workers to employers with 100 or fewer.

The third bill would allow consumers to enroll directly through insurers and other Web-based entities besides HealthCare.gov.

Republicans have vowed to make ObamaCare the primary issue in the 2014 election cycle, and are hammering Landrieu, Warner and Begich over their support of the law.

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

This isn’t the first time Landrieu has led a charge to change the healthcare law.

The Louisiana Democrat acted quickly with legislation to address President Obama’s broken promise that if you like your healthcare plan you can keep it. Her legislation would allow people to keep their current plans indefinitely, even if they don’t meet the healthcare law’s minimum requirements.