October 31, 2013, 12:59 pm
White House officials in talks with anxious Dems on ObamaCare
By Elise Viebeck
Officials involved in the ObamaCare rollout are meeting with Senate Democrats on Thursday to try and calm fears about the struggling enrollment site.
Marilyn Tavenner, administrator at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, headed to Capitol Hill Thursday with White House chief of staff Denis McDonough and former budget director Jeff Zients.
The three will meet with lawmakers as support rises among Democrats for delaying the implementation timeline. Zients was brought in to lead the triage effort for HealthCare.gov, the federal enrollment portal.
Vulnerable Democratic senators are backing a variety of changes in response to problems with the website, including deferring the individual mandate and extending the law's enrollment period.
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), who is up for reelection in 2014, is crafting a bill that would let policyholders keep plans that do not meet standards under the Affordable Care Act.
The Obama administration is under serious pressure to fix the enrollment portal before it becomes an election issue and creates a drag on sign-ups.
Tavenner is due back in the Senate on Tuesday to testify before the Health Committee on the problems facing HealthCare.gov.
White House press secretary Jay Carney called the meeting "part of our constant communications with the Hill on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act [and] the obvious problems with the website."
The White House spokesman also swiped at the GOP, noting that fewer than 20 House Republicans appeared at a briefing provided by the Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday.
Carney said that the administration was "going to keep providing information," but that it appeared Republicans were more interested in "yet another political food fight" than knowing "the substance of this issue."