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White House pressured to find solution for dropped healthcare plans

By Michael A. Memoli and Kathleen Hennessey

6:39 PM EST, November 13, 2013

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WASHINGTON – Pressure intensified on the White House on Wednesday to find a way to protect Americans who are at risk of being dropped from existing healthcare plans as the administration released a report showing how few Americans had signed up for insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

The president and top aides continued to work Wednesday on a "fix" in the law aimed at several million people who had received cancellation notices. They are racing to find a solution as Republicans in Congress – and some Democrats – move forward with their own plans.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the GOP bill, by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), "causes more problems than it fixes." A plan from the White House would be coming soon, Carney said, as officials sought to keep Democrats onboard.

White House aides have been seeking at least a partial fix to the problem that would not require new legislation, fearing that any legislative proposal could turn into a free-for-all on Capitol Hill.

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But lawmakers have grown impatient.

Rep. Ron Barber (D-Ariz.) said White House officials told senior Democrats to expect a plan as soon as Wednesday night or Thursday, though there were "limited options" available.

If no workable fix comes from the administration, Barber said, he would probably support the Upton bill.

"There are a lot of Democrats that are concerned, as I am," he said. "We want to see the American people treated fairly and properly. And apparently that’s not happening, so we need to fix that. We need to fix that soon."

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who has close ties to the administration, cautioned that some of the proposals drafted in Congress could hurt consumers.

"We’re continuing to explore ways to try and address these concerns without creating even larger problems like a spike in premiums down the road," he said. "They’re going over a whole lot of options. I don’t know that they’ve settled on any options yet."

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michael.memoli@latimes.com

Twitter: @mikememoli

kathleen.hennessey@latimes.com

Twitter: @khennessey