Dems On Different Pages Over Whether HHS Obamacare Insurance Extension Is Political

Zeke Emmanuel says decision is part of a 'political game,' Van Hollen claims WH is 'listening to concerns'

Some Democrats appear to be reading from different talking points over whether HHS's decision to extend certain insurance policies that would otherwise be eliminated by Obamacare is a component of a larger political strategy.

Former administration health policy advisor and "Obamacare architect" Zeke Emanuel acknowledged the decision prolong the insurance policies seems to be part of the "political game" for the White House Wednesday on MSNBC:

ALEX WAGNER: Is this White House announcement in terms of extending the grandfather period for substandard plans, is this a good move policy-wise?

ZEKE EMANUEL: Policy-wise, it's probably a toss-up. I actually think what the White House is doing is to say, look, there is a lot of unrest about it, it's distracting. If we extend it it really doesn't have that big of an effect. It means that about half a million people won't go into the exchanges, premiums will go up about 1 percent as a result of the risk pool adjustment, it's not that big of a deal, it's pretty small. Those are estimates by the independent think tank Rand. And they think for the political game, it's worth it to do that. And it certainly isn't a big deal. I keep saying, you know, they seem to be very strategic at the White House, do some of these things that are good politically but really don't affect the underlying policy, but defend the underlying policy, like no chance no way are we going to roll back the original mandate or anything like that, and so I think that's part of the strategy.

However, just minutes later Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D., Md.) patently denied there was a political aspect to the extension in an interview with Neil Cavuto on Fox News:


NEIL CAVUTO: Should I read any significance to the fact that this is pushed to 2017, well after the elections? Not only the midterm, but the presidential?

VAN HOLLEN: No, I don't think so. I think, Neil, if you look at this particular segment of the market, it is not a core part of trying to make the Affordable Care Act work. That part is -- are the exchanges. And of course trying to make sure that individuals can sign up and get that insurance in the exchange, even if they have pre-existing conditions, so no one can be excluded.


NEIL CAVUTO: So no big deal, no Machiavellian plot here or any of that?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, I don't think so. Again, I think what the president and others are doing is listening to the concerns that are being raised and trying to make adjustments to to accommodate those concerns.

It has been widely reported many Democrats were skittish about midterm prospects with looming insurance cancellations just before the election.

Perhaps those are the "concerns" Van Hollen said the White House is working to "accommodate."