Democrats Still in Denial on Obamacare Failure

Posted: Nov 18, 2013 12:10 PM

If you are a Democratic in Congress, it is gut check time. Do you stick by Obamacare at all costs, or do you begin to vote with Republicans on bills that slowly dismantle the Affordable Care Act?

Salon's Brian Beutler lays out why so many Democrats have convinced themselves that if they just tough it out for a few more weeks, everything will turn out fine in the end.

Vastly preferable is a “nowhere to go but up” scenario where the website works pretty well in a couple weeks, enrollments shoot upward, quickly overtaking the number of people whose policies have been canceled. Ideally many of the people who just lost their coverage (motivated insurance purchasers) turn to the exchanges and find policies that they like, or at that they’re happy enough with to quiet their anger over the cancelation of their old plans.

This scenario must sound like heaven to Democrats right now, but two pieces of data from last week show that it is unlikely.

First, look at the enrollment numbers released by the White House last week. Less than 27,000 Americans selected a health insurance plan through the mostly non-functional national website. But in California, where the website is running much more smoothly, more than 35,000 people selected health care plans.

So if the Democrats' dream Obamacare scenario is likely, then California Democrats should be feeling the least political pressure from their constituents about losing coverage.

But that is just not the case. Witness Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), who barked back, at White House briefers dismissing the cancellation problem last week saying, “You say it’s only 5 percent, but it is much more than 5 percent in my district.”

And Eshoo is not alone. She actually ended up voting against Rep. Fred Upton's (R-CA) Obamacare fix bill last week. But, seven other of her California Democratic colleagues, including former-State Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi (D-CA), broke ranks and voted with the Republicans.

If Obamacare's fortunes are going to turnaround after people can see what their options are on the exchange, then there should not have been any pressure on California Democrats to vote for the Upton bill. Instead, California Democrats voted with Republicans at almost the exact same rate the rest of the party did.

There is a reason why many of the most damning stories about Obamacare forcing people into more expensive, lower access plan are coming from California: California has the best website and it is relatively easier for consumers and journalists to compare plans.

Remember, California is a heavily Democratic state where Obama is still immensely popular. Imagine how these stories are going to play out in red or swing states.

A non-functioning website maybe the best thing Obamacare has going for it right now.

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