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Dems criticize flawed rollout of health care law

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By McClatchy Newspapers
Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, 9:30 p.m.
 

WASHINGTON — Republicans have always been harsh critics of Obamacare.

Now President Obama's signature health care law is taking heat from Democrats, too. More than three weeks after the problem-plagued rollout of the federal marketplace where consumers can sign up for health insurance, support for major provisions of the Affordable Care Act is weakening among some Democrats, who want to see someone fired over the botched debut.

“I absolutely believe that somebody should be held accountable,” said Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.

As lawmakers prepare to grill federal contractors on Thursday about the performance of the Healthcare.gov website at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing, the marketplace has grown from a public relations black eye into the most immediate threat to the law's early success.

Wednesday was the first full day the House of Representatives had met since controversy erupted over the insurance marketplaces, and the political fallout was everywhere. Republicans paraded one by one onto the House floor offering one-minute speeches blasting the law. House Democrats met and expressed frustration.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire broke with fellow Democrats and called on Obama to extend the open enrollment period beyond March 31, 2014. In a letter to Obama, Shaheen said the website problems are “incredibly frustrating and disappointing.”

Up to five Democrat senators were discussing introducing legislation to delay implementation of the law for up to a year.

Even the chairwoman of the Democratic Party, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, embraced Shaheen's idea, telling MSNBC, “There should absolutely be an openness to extending the open enrollment period. I don't think there's anything wrong with that.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., shot down Shaheen's proposal at her weekly news conference.

“I don't support that,” Pelosi said, adding that the state-run California insurance marketplace is working well. “So I think we should try to fix what we have, move forward with the deadline we have, respectful of what her experience may be and her suggestion, but not (be) supportive of it.”

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