My piece on the homepage today looks at how the disastrous Obamacare rollout has seriously threatened Senator Kay Hagan’s (D., N.C.) reelection prospects in 2014:
The state is experiencing many of the problems typically associated with the controversial law. Local businesses are cutting hours; individuals (at least 160,000 of them) are losing their existing insurance plans and now face premium costs that have more than doubled as a result of Obamacare. In some cases, premiums have jumped by more than 400 percent, and federal subsidies aren’t nearly enough to offset to the cost.
North Carolina is particularly vulnerable to cost increases because one company — Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) — dominates much of the health-insurance market in the state, serving more than 3.7 million customers. But the company has encountered a series of problems with the federally administered exchange, enrolling only one person in the first month, and that individual has yet to pay for coverage and so therefore is technically not in the system…
None of this is good news for Hagan, who was swept into office in 2008, when Barack Obama became the first Democrat to win North Carolina since Jimmy Carter in 1976. Democrats had been reasonably confident about defending Hagan’s seat in 2014, says John Hood, president and chairman of the John Locke Foundation, a Raleigh-based think tank. However, the Obamacare rollout “is putting the first fear in Hagan’s camp that we’ve seen. She is vulnerable pretty much because of this issue.”
Hagan has already taken steps to distance herself from the unpopular law she voted for, lending support to a proposal from Senator Mary Landrieu (D., La.) that is designed to cut down on the number of health-insurance plans being canceled under Obamacare. Of course, both Hagan and Landrieu voted against a nearly identical Republican proposal in 2010. The North Carolina Democrat has also called for a “a complete, thorough investigation to determine the causes of the design and implementation failures of HealthCare.gov.”
Public Policy Polling, a Democratic firm based in North Carolina, shows Hagan “basically tied” with a series of potential GOP challengers, which represents a dramatic swing from the 12 to 7 point leads she enjoyed in September — before the rollout of the Obamacare exchanges. Her disapproval rating has jumped an astonishing ten points since then, to 49 percent.