News reports Wednesday also indicated that two other Senate Democrats -- Mark Begich of Alaska and Joe Manchin of West Virginia -- were also in favor of an individual mandate delay, with Manchin soon to release his own legislation. Manchin said in an interview with Fox News' Bill O'Reilly Wednesday night that he will offer a bill that will delay the individual mandate penalties until 2015.
Shaheen, Begich and Pryor are all facing reelection in 2014.
In July, the administration announced it would delay for one year a requirement that businesses with 50 or more workers provide health insurance or pay a fine. But it left in place the requirement that most individuals have coverage by Jan. 1. In 2014 the amount is $95 or 1 percent of income, whichever is greater. In 2016 the penalty rises to $695 or 2.5 percent of income, whichever is greater. Republicans have argued that the administration should delay the mandate for individuals for a year also.
But officials point out that change could severely impact the insurance pool. The individual mandate was added to the law to make sure that healthy individuals buy insurance so that it can be affordable for sicker beneficiaries. If only older consumers or those with medical problems were to enroll in the marketplace plans, they would quickly become too expensive.
The health law will be the focus on several upcoming hearings on Capitol Hill where administration officials and others involved with the website are expected to face tough questioning from Republicans.
On Thursday, the contractors behind healthcare.gov are scheduled to appear before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. On Oct. 29, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Administrator Marilyn Tavenner is scheduled to appear before the House Ways and Means Committee to discuss the health law rollout and on Oct. 30 Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is expected to appear before the House Energy and Commerce panel.
Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communications organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.
Wed, Oct 23 2013