After holding fast through the 16 days of the government shutdown, some Democrats in the Congress are now starting to entertain the idea of delay when it comes to parts of the Obama health law, amid bipartisan concern over troubles with the healthcare.gov website.
“I believe, given the technical issues, it makes sense to extend the time for people to sign up,” said Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR), one Democrat up for re-election in 2014 whom Republicans thought they could pressure during the shutdown fight.
But now with that budget battle over, the troubles of the health care site have quickly pushed Pryor to urge a delay in enrollment.
“We all want to see the law work, and I hope the Administration will take a hard look at this reasonable suggestion,” Pryor said in a statement.
Pryor’s move came a day after Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) endorsed a similar delay, firing off a letter to President Obama.
“As you continue to fix problems with the website and the enrollment process, it is critical that the Administration be open to modifications that provide greater flexibility for the American people seeking to access health insurance,” Shaheen wrote.
Meanwhile, grumbling among Democratic members in the House increased after a closed door briefing by a top Medicare official.
“I think the president needs to man up, find out who was responsible and fire them,” Rep. Richard Nolan (D-MN).
On the House floor, Rep. John Barrow (D-GA) went a step further and endorsed a one year delay in the individual mandate.
“This is about providing relief to the folks we represent,” said Barrow, “because they’re being forced to buy something that just isn’t ready.”
Even with such comments, there still isn’t a rush to the exits from rank and file Democrats – but it’s clear the troubles with healthcare.gov have some of them feeling the heat.
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) told reporters in his home state that “somebody ought to get fired” for the mismanagement, but also made clear that should wait until the administration fixes the web site.
In other words, if the web site works out the kinks, Democrats will too.
But if the troubles go on and on, Democrats may get a bit jittery.