Senate Democrats Bring Worries Over Obamacare to White House

By Michael Catalini

November 7, 2013

Senate Democrats facing reelection in 2014 carried their concerns over the rollout of the Affordable Care Act to the White House on Wednesday for a private meeting with President Obama, with some voicing pointed frustration at the administration's efforts.

"I am very frustrated with the rollout of the exchanges," said Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon in a statement. "The dysfunction and delays are unacceptable. After meeting with the president today, I remain deeply convinced that this is a 'show-me' moment."

Despite what Sen. Christopher Coons, D-Del., called a "constructive" meeting, the visit underscores just how much worry there is among Senate Democrats.

"The rollout of has not been smooth — to say the least — and I shared the concerns of Coloradans directly with the president," said Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado in a statement. "Consumers should have the time they need to shop for a plan and enroll after the widespread problems with the website are fixed."

Sixteen Democrats attended the meeting, including Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Michael Bennet of Colorado. Bennet later traveled with the president to a DSCC fundraiser in Texas.

During the meeting, Obama told senators he shared their commitment to make sure people who want to enroll for insurance through marketplaces would be able to do so, according to a statement from the White House.

"I also told the president that, for the Affordable Care Act to succeed, consumers need to be confident their personal information is secure," Udall said. "We need to do everything in our power to protect the online marketplace from hackers and cyberattacks."

The president told senators that the administration is working to protect consumers' privacy and security, according to the White House.

"The president was very engaged, very responsive, listened intently to the concerns expressed by many of the members and had his whole team there--relevant team there," Coons said during a brief interview after the meeting.

Asked whether it was the president or the senators who called the meeting, Coons suggested both sides had discussed the idea.

"I think there were a number of conversations between senators concerned about their constituents' difficult or frustrating experiences with the Affordable Care Act website and the White House," he said.

By Michael Catalini

November 7, 2013