Powerful Democrats who helped write and pass Obamacare subjected the new law’s chief administrator to withering criticism at a Senate hearing yesterday. Gary Cohen, the director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, testified before the Senate Finance Committee, and the Democrats on the committee—from its Chairman Max Baucus to Senators Ron Wyden, Bill Nelson, and Maria Cantwell—tore into him. Kaiser Health News has more:
Wyden pressed Cohen to help find ways to resolve a glitch in the law which may result in the denial of federal assistance to millions of Americans of modest means who could be priced out of family health coverage at work….
“We’ve got millions of people—working-class, middle-class people—who are going to be pushed into a regulatory health coverage no man’s land,” Wyden said. “They are unable to afford the family coverage through their employer and ineligible for the subsidy that could be used by dependents on the exchange.”
And that’s just one senator. Each had his or her own complaints about different parts of the law’s implementation, from its elimination of funding for insurance co-operatives to the failure to meet important deadlines. The criticisms came fast and furious:
“You are overwhelmed by the details and technology, I get that point…. It seems as if the agency is taking pages out of the law,” she [Cantwell] said….
“The people of Florida are going to suffer,” he [Nelson] told Cohen. “I want someone to be held accountable for this.”
The about-face of these Democrats is a phenomenon worth pausing over. Many formerly supportive constituencies have grown wary of Obamacare in recent weeks as we’ve learned more about the effects it will have on the health care system. But these Senators’ 180-degree turns are something more severe.
The fate of the Democratic party in America over the next decade is tied to Obama’s healthcare reform. If it is seen to be a success, America could trend Democratic for the foreseeable future. If it fails, liberalism as we’ve known it will take a massive hit. But, so far, support for Obamacare has been waning instead of waxing. Even a recent piece by Talking Points Memo that placed the blame for Obamacare’s potential failure on Republicans noted that the law’s unpopularity with the public at large was the number one threat to its success. Democrats are getting nervous and consequently are trying to put some distance between themselves and the ACA.
We don’t blame them for trying, but it may be a futile effort. For better or worse, their fates are now tied to that of Obamacare.