For weeks that spring, a tug of war played out inside the White House, according to five people familiar with the episode. On one side, members of the economic team and Obama health-care adviser Zeke Emanuel lobbied for the president to appoint an outside health reform “czar” with expertise in business, insurance and technology. On the other, the president’s top health aides — who had shepherded the legislation through its tortuous path on Capitol Hill and knew its every detail — argued that they could handle the job.
There’s also a story at CNN about internal debates over how customers would react to new expensive premiums and limited choice. But leaking information to journalists isn’t the only way Democrats are trying to distance themselves from the implementation failures.On the Hill, Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) have proposed the Keeping the Affordable Care Act Promise Act, which seeks to force President Obama to live up to the “like it, keep it” promise he made when selling the ACA to the public. The bill would require insurance companies to continue offering their pre-Obamacare plans, effectively undoing the cancellation notices that have been getting so much press. Sen. Baucus, an architect of the law, now argues that congress may need to consider delaying the individual mandate penalties if the website continues to malfunction.Both of these proposals would deeply undermine the ACA. Forcing people to buy more expensive plans is essential to the law, which seeks for good or for ill to redistribute from the healthy and the young to the sick and the old. And a mandate without a penalty will only increase the likelihood that young people won’t sign up for coverage.More and more Democrats are breaking ranks and running away from the botched implementation as fast as they can. President Obama may have one more campaign left in him, but the first people he might have to convince are the skeptics in his own administration and party.