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With Obamacare entrenched, Democrats feel free to gripe

With Obamacare entrenched, Democrats feel free to gripe

Sen. Ben Cardin is pictured. | AP Photo

The law doesn’t do enough to ensure kids have access to dental care, Ben Cardin said. | AP Photo

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A funny thing happened once Democrats grew confident that Obamacare is truly the “law of the land.”

They started complaining about pieces of it in public.

 

 

 

Democrats aren’t walking away from the overall law and its sweeping goals; they still see it as a historic achievement they had sought for generations.

But now that they feel its future is protected and it’s safe from repeal, Democrats are slowly becoming more vocal about small parts of the law that they want changed or eliminated — device taxes, a Medicare board, even kids’ dental coverage, to name a few.

And with important 2014 deadlines closing in, they’re more willing to point out where they think the Obama administration isn’t implementing the law correctly.

For instance, four Senate Democrats and two dozen House Democrats have signed on to Republican bills to repeal the law’s tax on medical-device manufacturers. Another 10 House Democrats want to repeal one of the law’s boards charged with containing Medicare spending.

During one recent Senate hearing, more fire came from the left than the right as several Democrats grilled a top administration health care official on how he’s getting the law up and running.

The Democratic critique of the law wasn’t unheard of last year, but it was quiet.

Since President Barack Obama’s signature health reform law passed in early 2010, Democrats banded together — just about universally — to defend it against a Republican Party that was just as uniformly set on repealing it.

But now that Obama has been reelected and there is no chance Republican repeal attempts would get past his veto pen, the political dynamic seems to have opened a door to Democrats to critique the law — and push back when they think the Obama administration isn’t putting the law in place as they want.

There’s also an oversight role: The law’s major provisions are slated to go into effect next January. Consumers can start signing up in October. Backers want that to go as smoothly as possible, lest Republicans say the rollout was the failure they had predicted all along.

As with any big piece of legislation, most members who supported it have pieces they would like changed.

Senate Democrats have taken a hard line against the pieces of the law that trouble them.

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) has threatened to vote against Obama’s nominee to lead the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services unless the administration allows states to run a Basic Health Plan, an optional program that allows states to use federal subsidies to insure people just above the federal poverty level. But the administration has put that option off for at least a year.

In a recent Finance Committee hearing, Cantwell pressed Gary Cohen, the director of the HHS Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, on why the agency is slow-walking the Basic Health Plan and not other pieces of the law.



Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/03/aca-is-here-to-stay-so-democrats-feel-free-to-gripe-88717.html#ixzz2NL2LAtn1