Options if HealthCare.gov Is Not Fixed, Including Delaying the Mandate

October 23rd, 2013

Philip Klein walks through five possible options if the HealthCare.gov web site is not fixed. None are good. Here are Philip’s  thoughts on delaying the mandate:

2) Delay the individual mandate. On top of the incredible political embarrassment that would come from delaying a provision the Obama administration spent years defending in federal court, policy-wise, this would only exacerbate the problem mentioned above.

If Americans aren’t penalized for failing to purchase insurance, the young and healthy ones will have even less incentive to buy it.

Insurers, who agreed to take on individuals with pre-existing conditions in concert with an individual mandate, would no doubt have something to say about this.

If Obama bypasses Congress to impose this delay, perhaps injured insurers could craft a legal challenge. Heck, they could even borrow the Obama administration’s own briefs about how inextricably linked the individual mandate is to the greater regulatory scheme of the law.

Oh can you imagine if the Administration is sued for *not* enforcing the mandate.

In any event, Senator Manchin is working on a bill to delay the mandate for one year:

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is working on legislation to effectively delay Obamacare’s individual mandate for one year, his office told TPM on Wednesday.

His spokesman, Jonathan Kott, said Manchin opposes a bill proposed by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) to delay the mandate for a more indefinite period of time while problems with the insurance exchanges persist.

“He doesn’t support the Rubio bill and is working on bill to delay the penalty for a year,” Kott said.

Manchin is a longtime critic of the individual mandate but voted with Democrats against GOP efforts to delay it during the government shutdown debate.

As an aside, during the shutdown, detractors claimed that if it weren’t for the shutdown, people would be focusing on the health care debacle, but they weren’t. OK. Now that the shutdown is over, HealthCare.gov has returned to the fore. I don’t think the shutdown will play much of a role in 2014.