President Barack Obama Monday acknowledged that he was displeased by the technical problems preventing people from signing up online for the Obamacare exchanges, and everything possible was being done to get the system functioning. Yet the administration has made no moves to delay the individual mandate portion of the law, which requires people to purchase health insurance by April 2014 to avoid a fine.
The exchanges opened October 1 but those attempting to sign up for health insurance for January 1 have encountered numerous technical glitches preventing or delaying the process from working properly. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was bombarded with questions at his daily press briefing Monday, following the president's Rose Garden speech addressing the issues with rollout. Carney declined to say that the administration would delay the individual mandate because of application issues:
So, again, we're acknowledging clearly, as the president did, that the problems that have existed on the website are not acceptable to him, that we are focused on making the consumer experience better, providing clear information to Americans about the variety of ways they can get the information about plans as well as the variety of ways that they can enroll to them.
When asked how the administration could fine people for not signing up in time if the exchanges weren't allowing people to do so, Carney stressed that the process was only three weeks old. He also repeatedly asked reporters to defer to the Department of Health and Human Services regarding whether not deadlines will be adjusted to accommodate those who encounter problems.
"Let's put it this way. If you do not have access to affordable insurance, you won't be penalized for not buying affordable insurance," Carney said, still not directly saying whether or not the mandate would be delayed.
The employer mandate portion of the law was delayed in July after businesses complained that the new law was confusing and compliance would be costly. Republicans, who have been unable to repeal the law, have called repeatedly for the individual mandate to be similarly delayed until the technical difficulties can be worked out. They also say the problems indicate the law is likely to be a failure altogether.
Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio has said that he'll introduce a bill pushing back the mandate. And Republican House Speaker John Boehner said that it is only fair to delay the individual mandate just as businesses were given more a time. A statement released from his office Tuesday said Obama is full of excuses:
The president did get one thing right yesterday: ObamaCare is "more than just a website" – it's a fundamentally-flawed law that is putting Americans' jobs, health insurance and financial security at risk. That's why they deserve the same "good deal" insurance companies and big businesses got when the president delayed the law's mandates for them, while leaving the rest of America on the hook. It's a matter of basic fairness.
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