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More US Democrats could jump ship over Obamacare due to rollout debacle: experts

Source:Xinhua Published: 2013-11-21 11:21:44

With some US Democrats distancing themselves from the White House over the floundering healthcare overhaul rollout, more could join them, experts said.

The website Healthcare.gov, a centerpiece of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, through which visitors can enroll in health insurance plans, has been mired in controversy amid myriad technical problems since its October 1 launch.

At least 2 million people have lost their healthcare coverage as a result of the new laws, as their plans did not adhere to Obamacare's strict new coverage standards, which has put Obama in hot water after numerous promises that those who liked their policies could keep them.

The White House's healthcare woes have made some Democrats nervous in the lead-up to next year's mid-term elections, underscored by 39 House Democrats who voted Friday for a GOP bill that would allow insurance firms to continue selling policies that do not meet Obamacare's requirements.

Indeed, some experts believe even more Democrats could distance themselves from the Obamacare fiasco as the 2014 midterm elections draw near, in a bid to avoid negative publicity.

That is especially the case in states that support Republicans, some experts said.

"Politics looks like a team sport until self-preservation comes into it," Republican Strategist Ford O'Connell told Xinhua, adding that he expects a growing number of Democrats to support more legislation like the House bill passed Friday.

"(Democrats) know there' re going to be tarred and feathered at the ballot box in 2014 over this, the only question is can they find ways to minimize the damage," he said.

In an apparent effort to distance the likely 2016 White House contender Hillary Clinton from Obamacare, her husband and ex-President Bill Clinton last week upbraided Obama for not honoring his promise that those who liked their healthcare coverage could keep it.

The former president, long known for his keen ability to judge the political winds, said the promise should be fulfilled even if it means a change in the new law.

Dan Mahaffee, an analyst with the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, told Xinhua the US may continue to see more Democratic votes for delaying portions of the law, especially those in competitive districts or swing states.

But Democrats' efforts to distance themselves from the healthcare law will fall short of joining Republicans to call for a full repeal of the law, other experts said.

"I don't see a serious effort to repeal Obamacare because Obama would veto that. He views this as his signature achievement and will fight to protect it at all costs," Darrell West, senior fellow at the Washington-based think tank Brookings Institution, told Xinhua.
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