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Obama seeks to soothe big insurers

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Politics,Chris Stirewalt,Power Play

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OBAMA SEEKS TO SOOTHE BIG INSURERS - President Obama has summoned health insurance CEOs to the White House today as he attempts continued damage control from the failed launch of his new health-insurance entitlement program. The Hill reports that the insurance executives will be joined by their industry’s top lobbyist for the White House huddle that will include senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and Chief of Staff Denis McDonough. Obama partnered with insurance firms to win passage of ObamaCare in 2010, promising to deliver young, healthy customers to the companies to offset costs associated with new regulations forcing them to cover those with preexisting conditions. But the botched launch of the program is proving dire for the industry. Insurers have reported widespread problems in the accuracy of data received as well as low numbers of enrollees.

[President Obama’s permanent campaign arm, Organizing for Action, is using the continued problems of ObamaCare’s Web site as the basis for a fundraising pitch. Watch Obama’s plea here.]

Explaining to do - While Obama is dealing with frustrations from his industry allies, administration officials will be facing the wrath of congressional Democrats who are under fire from the left and right for their support of the program, expected to be the central issue of the 2014 midterms. While Hill Democrats might be placated with promises of urgent action to fix the fouled Web site and sign-up system, the insurance chiefs are likely to be less understanding. If ObamaCare doesn’t deliver the millions of desirable customers the president has promised, widespread rate shocks even higher than those already reported could cause more insurers to dump customers and get out of the business altogether.

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Chris Stirewalt

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