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In an effort to calm the public and quell Democratic unease, Obama announced that expiring policies can be renewed for one year, a move Franken called “a step in the right direction.”
But otherwise, Franken has treaded cautiously through the latest thicket in the Obamacare debate, saying he is “still reviewing the details of the President’s proposal to determine whether it’s sufficient.”
Franken remains an unwavering champion of the health care law, which was conceived to bring coverage to some 30 million uninsured Americans. He frequently highlights a provision he authored requiring that insurance companies spend at least 80 to 85 cents of every premium dollar on health care and which has generated millions of dollars in consumer rebates.
In response to the disastrous rollout of the government health exchange website, Franken has said he would be “open” to delaying the final March 31 enrollment deadline. But only if the problems continue. He has not joined calls to delay the individual mandate, as have some Democrats facing election.
“Sen. Franken shares Minnesotans’ frustration with the problems in the initial rollout of HealthCare.gov,” Burgess said. “He’s focused on making the Affordable Care Act work for Minnesota.”
Franken supporters emphasize Minnesota’s low health insurance premiums and the relatively problem-free launch of MNsure, factors that could blunt GOP attacks in the state. Democrats also argue that while the website has been a PR disaster, it does not signify a bad law.
“People are frustrated, disappointed that it cost so much to fix this problem, that it should have been done right the first time,” said Minnesota DFL Party Chairman Ken Martin. “But they’re not saying we should go back to the days the Republicans want to take us back to.”
Both sides are keenly aware that with a year to go before voters go to the polls, a lot can happen. Americans United for Change, a Democratic-allied group, has been circulating a Wall Street Journal piece by Princeton economist Alan Blinder, a former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve. While defending the law, Blinder sounds a note of caution.
“I fear that what is being sloughed off by some [Affordable Care Act] supporters as merely bad PR might wind up being a great deal more damaging,” Blinder wrote. “Remember, in politics, spin is often more important than reality.”
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