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Beto O'Rourke not satisfied with Obamacare fix

By Collin Carroll, Collin Carroll, collin.carroll@kvia.com
Published On: Nov 15 2013 12:10:46 AM CST
Updated On: Jan 16 2014 06:59:27 PM CST

Good news came Thursday for millions of Americans who recently found out they couldn't keep their current health care plans under Obamacare. President Obama apologized for previously assuring people they could, and gave a carefully-worded promise that may allow people to keep their plans one more year.

EL PASO, Texas -

U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-El Paso, said Thursday that he's not satisfied with President Obama's promise to allow insurance companies to extend current health-care plans one more year under Obamacare.

"I'm deeply disappointed in the implementation thus far of the Affordable Care Act," said O'Rourke, who was not in Congress when the bill became law. "From the website that still doesn't work to the broken commitment that would have allowed people to keep insurance plans that they already had if they liked them."

Good news came Thursday for millions of Americans who recently found out they couldn't keep their current health care plans under the universal health-care system. President Obama apologized for previously assuring people they could, and gave a carefully-worded promise that may allow people to keep their plans one more year.

"We fumbled the roll-out on this health-care law," Obama said Thursday.

As O'Rourke pointed out, Obama said insurers may choose to extend plans but doesn't guarantee that all satisfied customers may keep their plans.

"The president is being just very cautious with his rhetoric," said UTEP political science professor Jose Villalobos. "In the marketplace there are certain forces that are beyond his control."

And as political columnists on the right and left point out, Senate Democrats whose fingerprints are all over the bleak program are feeling the heat as they come up for re-election.

Steven Hayward of Forbes on Monday wrote that the law will be repealed before the 2014 elections. He called the program a "sideshow" and said endangered Democrats will spearhead the repeal.

"There's gonna be some talk about whether people are just trying to save their seats for re-election, or if they're just really upset and they want the problems to be solved," Villalobos said. "I think for most of those Democrats, they're overlapping."

The Washington Post's Ezra Klein wrote Wednesday that Americans are already seeing the shift in the Senate with the Keeping the Affordable Care Act Promise Act. Even senators from dark blue states, like Oregon Democrat Jeff Merkley, sponsor the bill -- he's up for re-election next year. And if millions of Americans aren't forced to enter the marketplace, Obamacare premiums will rise.

"I represent nearly 200,000 El Pasoans who are currently uninsured, who are going to have worse health outcomes if we don't successfully implement this, who are going to be a burden on the other taxpayers in El Paso who are covered, who will end up subsidizing their care," O'Rourke said. "So I want to work with those who have a genuine interest in improving this law."

O'Rourke said he's working with congressmen on both sides of the aisle to find a solution -- one that guarantees continued coverage for people who are happy with their plans. But he said the real fix needs to come from the president.

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