Share

Topics: Obamacare

With Senate majority on the line, Harry Reid is embracing Obamacare tweaks

By |
Politics,Congress,Susan Ferrechio,Obamacare,Senate,Harry Reid,Health Care,PennAve,Employer Mandate

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday he is open to making legislative changes to the health care law, but they are likely to be minor.

After meeting with fellow Senate Democrats privately on Tuesday, the Nevada Democrat made a point of highlighting small changes to the health care law that the upper chamber has made and suggested he will take up measures that further tweak the law.

“Anything we can do to let people know that we're not deaf to issues that may come up,” Reid said. “This is a big bill. And if we had working partners, as we used to have, with Republicans, there are other things we could do to work on this bill.”

Reid's new willingness to make change to Obamacare came as the White House announced it had met the goal of enrolling 7 million people by the March 31 deadline.

“The Affordable Care Act, whether my Republican friends want to admit it or not, is working,” Reid said.

But Reid acknowledged the need to make changes.

The Senate tucked a provision inside Medicare payment legislation that repealed Obamacare's cap on deductibles for small group health plans.

Lawmakers called for the change in the requirement because it would have prevented small group health plans from purchasing most bronze-level plans because they exceeded the deductible cap.

“Even the Chamber of Commerce and the Restaurant Association endorsed that change,” Reid said.

Reid’s openness to making some changes to the law comes as he is receiving pressure from increasingly panicked red-state Democratic incumbents, who have seen their poll numbers plummet because of the health care law, which polls show is unpopular.

Some of the vulnerable lawmakers have proposed legislation to delay or repeal parts of the law, including Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La., Mark Begich, D-Alaska, and Mark Warner, D-Va., who are all running for re-election in competitive races.

The three, along with Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Angus King, I-Maine, who are not up for re-election in 2014, introduced legislation recently that would alter parts of the law, including a proposal to end the employer mandate for companies with fewer than 100 employees.

The proposal would also direct state insurance regulators to establish models for selling health insurance across state lines, a proposal favored by the GOP. And the measure would restore money for the creation of “consumer-driven” health insurance cooperatives to give people more choices outside of the health care exchanges.

Reid would not commit to taking up the legislation, however.

He said this week the Senate would instead vote on a provision co-authored by Warner that would exclude volunteer firefighters from the employer mandate.

Reporters asked Reid what other legislative changes in the law he would be willing to consider.

“A number of Democrats introduced various bills,” Reid said. “Some of them are good, some are not so good.”

Reid alone controls the Senate floor schedule. He blamed Republicans, however, for the Senate’s lack of action on Obamacare legislative tweaks.

“That's the problem,” Reid said. “We don't have Republicans. They want this thing repealed. They don't want to fix anything that may be made better.”

This story was first published at 5 a.m.

View article comments Leave a comment