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News Analysis: Obamacare woes could bring trouble for Democrats in 2014

English.news.cn   2014-02-08 23:03:21

by Matthew Rusling

WASHINGTON, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Democrats could feel the sting of President Barack Obama's healthcare reform, or Obamacare, in 2014 as the rollout continues to draw fire from critics.

The healthcare law has stirred controversies for the botched rollout of its centerpiece website, healthcare.gov, and also for causing four million Americans to be dropped by their insurance providers, despite Obama's repeated promises those who wished to could keep their insurance plans.

Earlier this week, a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report set off a firestorm in Washington by noting Obamacare would lead to a reduction in the labor force of two million fulltime jobs in the next three years.

Republicans contended it would be bad for the economy, although the White House billed the development as positive, since more Americans would voluntarily work less in order to care for children or ailing parents.

On Wednesday, CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf told the House Budget Committee in a hearing the healthcare law "creates a disincentive for people to work."

With 38 percent of Americans approving of the new law, according to Friday's Real Clear Politics poll average, the question remains whether Obamacare will hurt the Democrats in the 2014 Congressional elections.

"The way the press reported the CBO numbers was devastating for the president," Brookings Institution's senior fellow Darrell West told Xinhua.

"Media coverage suggested two million would lose jobs as a result of the Affordable Care Act. This is unfortunate because the CBO actually noted that two million people voluntarily would quit their jobs because they can get health coverage without having a job. This frees them to take care of children and elderly parents," West said.

"If people believe the early press reports, that will be devastating for Democrats because it ties health care concerns with the jobs issue in a very unfavorable manner. You can bet Republicans will use that issue against Democrats," he said.

Julian Zelizer, professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, told Xinhua concerns over the healthcare.gov rollout would be a problem in certain Congressional races.

Though it was now counterbalanced by the fact more Americans were enjoying the benefits, the insurance industry was starting to see the returns from the program, and Republicans remained in poor shape as well, he said.

The website, which promised access to affordable health insurance plans, saw myriad technical glitches that prevented visitors from completing enrollment in Obamacare in the initial months after its launch, although the White House said it was now up to par.

Some businesses have expressed pessimism over Obamacare and, on Thursday, tech giant AOL's CEO, Tim Armstrong, told U.S. media Obamacare would cost the company more than 7 million U.S. dollars.

This week, U.S. media also reported 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.

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

Editor: yan
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