With the midterms less than two weeks away, liberal commentators have put a lot of heat on Republican candidates who advocate repealing Obamacare but don't have a fully-formed plan to replace it. There's been less attention to Democrats who pledge to "fix" the president's troubled healthcare overhaul. What, specifically, would they fix? Tuesday's Senate debate in New Hampshire, between incumbent Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and GOP challenger Scott Brown, was a textbook case of a Democrat promising to fix Obamacare without offering much in the way of actual fixes.
Shaheen stood behind her vote for the Affordable Care Act, arguing that "We don't want to go back to a time when health insurance companies could determine what kind of care people get." Then moderator Chuck Todd asked, "What is a 'fix bill' you would like to introduce?" This is what Shaheen had to say:
Well, like any other major issue, healthcare is something that we have to continue to address as we implement it. This has been a major change. One of the things that I've proposed is an independent CEO and advisory committee that would oversee the healthcare website, because we saw some issues with the rollout of the website.
That was Shaheen's fix: she would appoint an Obamacare committee. But one that will just cover the website.
As President Obama has often said that the healthcare law is more than a website, surely an Obamacare fix is more than a website fix. What about the people facing sky-high deductibles? What about the people facing higher premiums without taxpayer-paid subsidies? What about the people facing narrow networks of doctors? (Might it be that health insurance companies still determine what kind of care people get?) And what about Obamacare's long-term fiscal outlook, that it will likely add to the deficit rather than cut it, as proponents had claimed?
In the past year or so, Shaheen has supported a few short-term changes to the healthcare law, like allowing people to temporarily keep policies that would otherwise have been canceled. But when it comes to actually fixing Obamacare, Shaheen is not very different from many of her fellow Democrats. She says she wants to fix Obamacare, but doesn't have much to offer.