Will health care website hurt N.C. Democrats?

Nov 4, 2013
In The News

Since its launch, many have had trouble signing up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act’s Health Insurance Marketplace website.

In turn, many Democratic candidates in North Carolina are trying to distance themselves from the site’s problems.

Last month, Sen. Kay Hagan, up for re-election in 2014, said she supported extending the open enrollment period and waiving the individual mandate for two months.

“An extension would provide time to assess the extent of the problems and determine whether additional delays in the individual mandate are necessary,” said Hagan in a press statement.

But N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis, who is running for the Republican nomination in 2014, called Hagan’s stance hypocritical.

“Just over a week ago, she voted against delaying implementation,” said Tillis in a press release, “Now with her election on the line she is hypocritically begging for a delay.”

Laura Fjeld, former vice president and general counsel for the UNC system who is now running for Congress, said last week that she would also support extending enrollment and delaying the individual mandate.

“It would be unfair for the government to punish people for failing to enroll for coverage when the failure is the government’s fault,” said Fjeld in a press release.

But not all Democrats are backing down from their support for the law. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., accused Republicans of false outrage during a Congressional hearing.

“But my colleagues don’t talk about the dividends Obamacare is already paying to millions of Americans, instead choosing to focus on the technical glitches with healthcare.gov,” said Butterfield.

The difference between Butterfield and fellow Democrats might be their political safety. In 2012, Butterfield won 75 percent of the vote in his district.

But Fjeld is running against Rep. Howard Coble, R-N.C., who won his district by 60 percent of the vote. Meanwhile, left-leaning firm Public Policy Polling shows Hagan beating a generic Republican by only five points.