President Obama and Vice President Biden met with 16 Democratic senators at the White House on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the administration's response to problems with the federal health care Web site, HealthCare.gov.
Among the lawmakers who participated in the meeting were several -- including New Hampshire's Jeanne Shaheen, Arkansas's Mark Pryor, Alaska's Mark Begich and Louisiana's Mary Landrieu -- who have urged the administration to either delay the open enrollment period beyond the March 31 deadline or take other steps to mitigate potential penalties on the uninsured in light of the enrollment difficulties.
Obama "emphasized that he shared the Senators’ commitment to ensuring that Americans who want to enroll in health insurance through the Marketplaces are able to do so in time for insurance coverage to start as early as January 1st, and throughout the open enrollment period," the White House said in a statement after the meeting.
The president also asked the senators about how the implementation of the health-care law was faring in their states. After the discussion, Obama left Washington for Dallas, where he will meet with health care workers who are helping people enroll under the Affordable Care Act. The president also will attend two Democratic fundraisers, and he was joined on the trip by Colorado's Michael Bennett, who was at the White House meeting and is the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
Democrats in red and purple states who are up for re-election have expressed concerns about the problems the administration has had in the rollout of the health-care program. The White House has pledged to fix the Web site by the end of this month, which administration officials said would leave plenty of time for people to enroll before the new year, when their coverage plans would start.
Administration officials have pledged to release the first batch of enrollment figures next week.