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News Analysis: Obamacare glitches continue, but will they hurt U.S. Democrats?

English.news.cn   2014-02-07 10:36:45

By Matthew Rusling

WASHINGTON, Feb. 6 (Xinhua) -- Problems continue for U.S. President Barack Obama's healthcare overhaul, but it remains unknown whether they will hurt Democrats in the 2014 elections.

The centerpiece website of Obama's healthcare overhaul, or Obamacare, was plagued with technical problems after its Oct. 1 launch, and the president's job approval took a hit as a result of the botched rollout.

U.S. media reported more problems this week, as 22,000 site visitors had filed requests with U.S. Health and Human Services to fix problems they were having with their Obamacare coverage, but a computer program has not yet been built to address those issues.

While a Real Clear Politics poll average on Thursday found that only 38 percent of Americans approve of the law, the question remains whether all this will translate into losses for Democrats in the 2014 Congressional elections.

Julian Zelizer, professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, told Xinhua the Obamacare website problems will be an issue in certain Congressional races.

But that is now counterbalanced with the fact that more Americans are enjoying the benefits, the insurance industry is starting to see the returns from the program, and Republicans remain in poor shape as well, Zelizer said.

While problems associated with the site have been significant and widespread, the vast majority of the most serious errors have been resolved, Jeremy Barofsky, a post-doctoral scholar at the University of Southern California's Schaeffer Center, told Xinhua.

Still, Obamacare is not out of the woods yet. A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report released this week made a splash in U.S. media, as some news outlets and pundits interpreted it to mean that Obamacare would create a disincentive to work.

Some media and the White House refuted those claims, contending that media and Republicans misinterpreted the report. But on Wednesday CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf told the House Budget Committee in a hearing that the healthcare law "creates a disincentive for people to work."

He added, however, that subsidies provided under Obamacare would help lower income people.

Some businesses expressed pessimism over Obamacare, and on Thursday tech giant AOL's CEO Tim Armstrong told U.S. media that Obamacare will cost the company more than seven million U.S. dollars.

"We have to decide whether or not to pass that expense to employees," Armstrong said, explaining why his company cut 401k benefits to employees this year.

Editor: chengyang
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