House Democratic Staffers to Huddle With White House on Health Care Law Fixes

Posted November 8, 2013 at 1:45pm

White House staff will huddle with Democratic aides on Friday to discuss administrative tweaks to the health care law that would allow individuals to keep their insurance policies even if those policies don’t meet some standards established by the law.

A House Democratic leadership aide told CQ Roll Call that Obama administration officials are scheduled to meet on Capitol Hill with aides to the chamber’s Democratic leaders and ranking members of committees. This aide did not say when the meeting would take place or whether there would be a read-out of what was discussed.

But the meeting is significant: On Thursday in an interview with NBC, President Barack Obama said he was sorry that some Americans are frustrated about losing their current policies. “We’ve got to work hard to make sure that we know we hear them,” he said.

“We are going to do everything we can to deal with folks who find themselves in a tough position,” Obama said, adding that the White House was “looking at a range of options” to address the situation.

An administrative source told the Huffington Post later Thursday that the White House was exploring an “administrative fix for the population of people in the individual market who may have an increase in premiums, but don’t get subsidies.”

Friday’s Capitol Hill meeting suggests that the White House hopes to quickly resolve the political furor over the canceled plans.

It would be helpful if the administrative fix goes into effect in time for next Friday’s scheduled vote on legislation, sponsored by Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., to allow Americans to keep their health insurance plans for a year.

Most House Democrats are unlikely to bite, arguing that the legislation would allow insurance companies to continue to offer polices that don’t comport to new standards designed to increase overall quality of care. A number of defections are expected, however, from vulnerable Democrats.

If there is movement to a resolution, those Democrats might have reason to vote against Upton’s bill, the House Democratic leadership aide suggested.