Debbie Wasserman Schultz: Fix Obamacare before people abandon it

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Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,Obamacare,Democratic Party,Health Care,Debbie Wasserman Schultz

One of President Obama’s strongest health care advocates in Congress, Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, is advocating for changes to Obamacare, counseling Democrats that “we must not treat every minute provision in the law as sacred.”

In a move that might surprise many in her party, Wasserman Schultz, who is also the head of the Democratic National Committee, said the Obamacare supporters currently fighting GOP demands to defund the health care act “should be open to suggestions for improving the law.”

What's more, “that engagement certainly should include past critics of the law,” the popular Democrat urges in her upcoming policy book, “For the Next Generation,” to be released on Oct. 15. Publisher St. Martin's Press provided Secrets with an advance copy.

Wasserman Schultz, a breast cancer survivor, has been one of the most passionate defenders of Obamacare and in her book calls Republican criticism “the most hysterical reaction in American politics since Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s paranoid campaign against so-called communist spies.”

But she said that as Obamacare nears implementation, problems might arise that could undermine the public’s perception of and participation in the law and Washington should move fast to fix it. "We're at a critical juncture of the implementation of Obamacare," she wrote. "If people find the exchanges too cumbersome or confusing, enrollment will suffer, as will public perception of the law."

Wasserman Schultz called on the GOP and others to offer alternatives and for those interested in changing Obamacare to suggest fixes, even if the ideas are from foreign governments.

“It comes down to making incremental improvements, borrowing the best ideas from state governments and foreign nations, researching the cause and effect of existing policies, analyzing trends, and planning for contingencies. In short, it’s wonky, requiring intensive study and critical thinking rather than simple sound bites from the campaign stump,” she writes in the book subtitled: “A Wake-Up Call to Solving Our Nation’s Problems.”

Wasserman Schultz even offered to consider spending cuts in Obamacare, though she decried efforts, like the one in the Senate pushed by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, to defund Obamacare.

“With an issue like comprehensive health care, the stakes are too high to engage in fear mongering,” she wrote. “If Republicans think this health care law doesn’t trim enough from future deficits, by all means let’s talk about ways we can make it even more efficient -- but as part of that conversation, we have to at least agree that every American is entitled to quality affordable health care coverage, If we can’t agree on that, then it won’t be possible to have a constructive discussion about moving forward.”

Paul Bedard, The Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.