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Shea-Porter tells Obama 'some people' should resign over flawed ACA roll-out

Staff Report
February 05. 2014 3:16PM

U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter Tuesday night told President Barack Obama that "some people should tender their resignations" over the flawed roll-out of the Affordable Care Act.

But a House Democratic aide said Wednesday that at the closed-door meeting between Obama and House Democrats, Shea-Porter stopped short of calling for anyone to be fired and did not name names.

The aide said she did not call for at the meeting, and is not generally calling for, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to resign or be fired.

"The President knows better than she does which people were responsible," the aide said. "But clearly there were a number of problems with the roll-out and those people should be held accountable.

"In general terms, as I understand it," the aide said, "the President's response was a defense of the health care law."

The aide also said Shea-Porter "appreciates the efforts to fix the law and she does believe that it can be fixed. She's not going to walk away from the thousands of people in New Hampshire who have gotten coverage through the Affordable Care Act who now have better insurance.

The Shea-Porter comment to Obama was first reported by the Wall Street Journal and confirmed by Shea-Porter spokesman Ben Wakana.

She was in a group of House Democrats who met privately with Obama at the White House.

The aide said she had planned in advance to make the comment about resignations and purposely took an aisle seat in order to be recognized. The aide said she was the second person to address the President.

Republicans quickly jumped on the Shea-Porter comment to Obama and said that as a supporter of the ACA, she should be the one to resign.

"It's laughable and hypocritical that Carol Shea-Porter called for people to resign because of the Obamacare train wreck," said Ian Prior of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

"Shea-Porter has been one of the law's biggest supporters, even voting against bipartisan bills to delay implementation and mitigate against some of the more disastrous effects of the law.

"If Shea-Porter is looking for someone to resign because of Obamacare, she should take a look in the mirror and call it quits herself."

Republican Frank Guinta, a former congressman who is running again for the 1st District seat held by Shea-Porter, immediately sent out a fund-raising email focusing on Shea-Porter's comment.

"If she truly believes that those responsible for the train wreck that is Obamacare (should resign), then we await her resignation," the Guinta campaign email said.

The Shea-Porter campaign responded, "As Mr. Guinta, who served as a Tea-Party congressman in the legislative branch of government, knows, the Constitution clearly mandates that Congress pass laws and the executive branch execute them. Congresswoman Shea-Porter, who has been unhappy with some aspects of the execution of the health care law, takes her responsibility of oversight and constituent advocacy very seriously, and she is not afraid to stand up for Granite Staters.

The campaign did not respond to the NRCC criticism.

The latest developments came as a new poll by the University of New Hampshire for WMUR showed Guinta leading Shea-Porter 38 to 34 percent and Shea-Porter leading Republican candidate Dan Innis 43 to 33 percent. The poll had a margin of error of 5.6 percent.

The Shea-Porter campaign said, "While the poll's margin of error is too high to draw any conclusions, it's unlikely that New Hampshire will return Tea-Partier Frank Guinta to Congress after he worked to end Medicare and Social Security, voted for sequestration, and supported the government shutdown."

Meanwhile, the House Democratic aide said that Shea-Porter worked to get another insurer, Minuteman, involved in the New Hampshire market as an alternative to Anthem.

Earlier this week, Shea-Porter announced that the federal Department of Health and Human Services has promised her that next year, it will require insurers to provide comprehensive lists of health care providers in their networks instead of "rubber-stamping" networks, as Shea-Porter said HHS did in New Hampshire.

According to Shea-Porter, HHS said that next year it will "actively evaluate" whether the networks provide "reasonable access to hospitals, primary care doctors and other essential services."

She said that she has long been calling for HHS to review the adequacy of the New Hampshire networks "because I believe Anthem's network is too narrow, and it's a shame that it was rubber-stamped by HHS."

She called on Anthem to give the state Insurance Department permission to release the results of its Market Conduct Exam, which studies the strength and adequacy of Anthem's narrow network, so the public can see the results before the department holds a public informational session next Monday, Feb. 10.

Shea-Porter last November prompted Anthem to extend renewal of current plans for its individual policy holders from Nov. 15 to Nov. 30.

After Obama announced a policy change, that deadline was extended in New Hampshire until Oct. 1 of this year.

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