Obamacare may suffer 'meltdown,' Manchin says, endanger Democrats' control of Senate in next election
WASHINGTON — President Obama's health care law could have a “meltdown” if ongoing problems with the program are not resolved, a Democratic senator said on Sunday.
Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who has backed delaying a penalty for people who do not enroll for health insurance in 2014, told CNN that a transitional year is needed for the complex health care program, commonly known as Obamacare, to work.
“If it's so much more expensive than what we anticipated, and if the coverage is not as good as what we had, you've got a complete meltdown at that time,” Manchin said on the network's “State of the Union” program. “It falls of its own weight, if basically the cost becomes more than we can absorb.”
The White House has been scrambling for months to control the damage from the botched Oct. 1 rollout of the law, formally called the Affordable Care Act.
There have been complaints from consumers about higher premiums because of new standards under the law, as well as lingering problems with HealthCare.gov, the Web portal used to sign up for insurance.
Manchin said Senate Democrats who are up for re-election next year are “feeling the weight” of the program's woes, and the party could have trouble keeping its majority in the chamber.
Republicans have been highlighting the law's difficulties as they seek to gain the six seats they need to win control of the 100-member Senate.
“It needs to turn around,” Manchin said of Obamacare. “I'm not going to say that I think we will lose (the Senate). It's going to be extremely challenging. We have some very good people who are truly there, I believe, for the right reason. They're going to be challenged for the wrong reason.”
Obama acknowledged on Friday that the bungled start of the health care exchange was his biggest mistake of the year.
His public approval numbers have dropped to record lows as a result of the website's flawed debut.
The president said more than 1 million people have signed up so far for coverage under Obamacare through HealthCare.gov, which services 36 states, and 14 state-run marketplaces.
A day earlier, Obama's administration said people whose insurance plans were canceled because of the law can claim a “hardship exemption” to the requirement that all Americans have coverage by March 31 .
Manchin, a conservative Democrat whose state of West Virginia has been increasingly trending Republican, has made no secret of his frustration with the program's fits and starts.
Last month, he introduced legislation to delay by a year the $95 penalty for failing to sign up for health insurance, saying Americans should not be penalized while Obamacare is going through its “transition period.”
Manchin is not up for re-election next year, but some Democrats who are have urged changes to the program, such as extending the open enrollment period beyond the March 31 deadline.
One third of the Senate is re-elected every two years.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Tribune-Review poll: Cable news rises as network news falls
- Carnegie Mellon expert to school Congress on security
- Clinton portrait refers to Lewinsky scandal, Philadelphia artist says
- EPA ripped for evading request for information
- Dems keep blocking joint negotiations on immigration orders
- $4.8M in gold taken in armored truck hijacking in North Carolina
- Several states in path of wintry blasts
- Hillary Clinton may have broken federal record-keeping laws, New York Times reports
- Natural gas royalties lawsuit hinges on transaction date
- Maryland’s Senator Mikulski announces retirement
- Los Angeles rookie officer claims shooting victim grabbed his gun