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March 27, 2015

Manchin’s Obamacare Mandate Delay Could Create Political Peril

Sen. Joe Manchin (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III has quickly become a favorite of Republicans with his quest to delay the individual mandate to buy health insurance under Obamacare.

Though that effort doesn’t seem to have much traction, it’s one that could start giving vulnerable Democrats heartburn.

The West Virginian announced Wednesday that he is working with Georgia GOP Sen. Johnny Isakson to craft a one-year delay of the insurance requirement of the landmark health care law. That idea has already picked up the endorsement of Michelle Nunn, the Democrat seeking Georgia’s open Senate seat in 2014.

“It has become apparent in recent weeks that implementing this law will take some time. That’s why I supported a delay in the mandate on businesses,” Nunn said in a statement. “And it is why, I believe that in light of the recent implementation challenges, I agree with bipartisan efforts led by Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson to postpone the insurance penalty for Georgia families.”

But many incumbent Senate Democrats — even some from conservative-leaning territories — have shown far less favor to the year delay, despite the deeply troubled rollout of the government website intended to help the uninsured buy coverage.

North Carolina Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan says the administration should waive the tax penalty for not having coverage during what she says should be a two-month extension of the open enrollment for the new exchanges.

“I am asking the Administration to extend the open enrollment period by two months, and waive the penalty for the individual mandate for the same period of time, to make up for time that is being lost while the website for the federal exchange is not functioning,” Hagan said in a statement.

Hagan is one of 10 Democratic senators, led by Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, who have signed on to a letter calling for the Obama administration to extend open enrollment further into 2014. The letter was a reaction to widespread reports of people being unable to use the website successfully.

An aide to Sen. Michael Bennet said that his boss is simply seeking an extension of the enrollment period. The Colorado Democrat was one of the senators who signed the letter and isn’t up for re-election this cycle.

Fellow signatory Mark Begich of Alaska explicitly opposes the full-year delay of the individual mandate, an aide said Friday. Begich would like to see the current yearlong delay on the employer mandate extended for an additional year, however.

This may all prove to be a moot point, with the Obama administration signaling Friday that it expects the troubled to be fully up and running for most users by the end of November, well before insurance coverage is set to begin.

Senate Democratic leadership has taken a wait-and-see approach, looking for cues from the administration as to how to proceed on any legislative effort that might make changes to the health care law.

Even though they are frustrated by Manchin and his public campaign to delay the mandate — including on Fox News Channel’s “The O’Reilly Factor” — they are not yet prepared to respond in any way.

First, Manchin has yet to produce legislative language and has not announced any Democratic co-sponsors.

An aide to Sen. Dan Coats said the Indiana Republican has invited Manchin to sign on to a proposal that Coats has already written. It would delay the individual mandate for a year and put into law the Obama administration’s executive action delaying the employer mandate for a year.

Second, much of the recent uptick in congressional complaints against the health care law and the individual mandate has been spurred by the failures of in the first few weeks of its operation.

President Barack Obama in an Oct. 21 Rose Garden speech vowed that the website would be upgraded so that more Americans could buy insurance with less hassle.

Senate aides say they are waiting to see whether the president lives up to his promise and what changes they might need to push outside the administration’s efforts in the weeks and months ahead.

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio is pushing his own plan to stall the mandate until six months after the Government Accountability Office certifies that is functioning as intended.

“I think we’re going to continue to have a debate about the merits of Obamacare. All this says is we should not be penalizing anybody until this website is working because that is the main way we’ve told people they’ll be able to get health insurance,” Rubio said Friday on CNN.

Of course, the potential of a Manchin-backed amendment on the floor might create a bigger political quagmire than any of the strictly GOP proposals, given Republican opposition to the underlying law.

Vulnerable Democrats, such as the ones who signed on to Shaheen’s letter, could face a political quandary. If they support a one-year delay, they could be accused by groups such as the National Republican Senatorial Committee of being flip-floppers who are running away from their original votes to create the law. If they oppose it, they could be accused of penalizing people who, through no fault of their own, were unable to sign up for health insurance.

If Democratic leaders in fact follow the administration’s lead on this issue, it’s very unlikely they will support delaying the cornerstone of the health care law while they’re under siege politically from Republicans. But either way, Manchin has created political exposure for his colleagues on a bill that has a near-impossible path to becoming law.

  • rr_nyc

    Manchin voted for it. He lied the other night about “not knowing” parts of the law were going to be more expensive. He should be fired. WV needs to get rid of him.

    • JohnDale49

      True, but lets focus on destroying Begich and Hagan first

      • Stephen

        Add to this list Pryor and Landrieu.

  • don76550

    Manchin has a history of lying. Remember how he campaigned as a champion of your gun rights? After the election he voted against your gun rights. He is a back stabber and a liar and he needs to be defeated.

    • Nixonfan

      I expect him to switch parties soon. Obama is killing him in WV.

      • Stephen

        EPA coal policies are making WV one of the reddest states now. Republicans should pick up the open US Senate seat there in 2014 presently held by Jay Rockefeller.

  • pitch1934

    Manchin is a democant. He is purely political.

  • rr_nyc

    Or Manchin selling out the Coal Miners.

  • Rod

    Senator Cruz and his colleagues offered the Democrats the chance to delay Obamacare for one year via the Continuing Resolution and they passed, while denigrating the GOP for even suggesting it.

    Now the Dems are learning that they’ve created (all by themselves) a mess that is going to cost them elections for decades, as they watch young voters wake up to the fact that they’ve been lied to all along about Obamacare.

    The GOP should pass on any bill that simply delays Obamacare. The Dems had their chance and blew it. Instead, the GOP position should now be to insist upon outright repeal.

    At the rate the Obamacare launch is disintegrating, they’ll have plenty of Dem cosponsors in a matter of just a couple of months. Drive a stake through this bill now, when the opportunity is best.

    • TravisJSays

      Every single Democrat in Congress needs to make a total adject public apology to Senator Cruz. He was attacked and vilified for being … AHEAD OF THE CURVE.

      “The GOP should pass on any bill that simply delays Obamacare. The Dems had their chance and blew it. Instead, the GOP position should now be to insist upon outright repeal.”


      the individual mandate delay does NOTHING to help save me and millions of others from the premium increases that are going to come sooner or later… so – at a minimum eliminate all the federal mandates on coverage. If people dont want certain coverage it is wrong to force them to have it.

      Make the Democrats live up to their ‘you get to keep it’ lie.

  • califconserv

    Why does this have to be republican democrat? Why so much emphasis on the political game playing? What about the legislation? If it is important for a particular group, how do you best fix it so it isn’t a burden on others and helps those it intends?
    Is the question one of costs? Then get more providers to help lower those costs and don’t put ambiguity into it so the providers do not know what they will be paid. The problem with Medicaid is that providers not only don’t know when they will be paid they do not know whether they will be paid for what is billed. They say we need a system like the European industrialized nations, we can afford it as the most powerful economy on the planet, yet we do not have the number of doctors they do so why would we expect the results?

    • Nixonfan

      Obamacare is designed to destroy the private health insurance industry. The delayed rollout will ensure this outcome. Massive adverse selection will bankrupt the insurers and create demand for a single-payer.

  • porchhound

    Republican stupidity at work…but is it as stupid and poorly thought out as it looks? Is there a more sinister motive behind Republican Leadership wanting to get this issue off the table before the 2014 elections?

    Oh….you mean with this kicked down the road it will lessen people’s pain on the short run and keep CONSERVATIVES from using this issue to push the old guard Republicrats out of office…I get it!

  • JimnJan

    A delay does nothing for the people who are losing their insurance and being forced into far more expensive policies. That problem will still be here a year from now. One can only wonder to what extent it will be repeated when the employer mandate kicks in.

    • Stephen

      Republicans in the US House should pass a bill permitting insurance companies to continue to sell the exact policies that they are being forced to cancel under Obamacare, at the current premiums. Then, wrap it up with a bow and drop it on Harry Reid and dare him to not bring this up for a Senate vote!

      • TravisJSays

        Gotta repeal all the Federal mandates to make that stick.

    • DrSquishy

      And better coverage. Nothing wrong with that.

    • TravisJSays

      One can only wonder to what extent it will be repeated when the employer mandate kicks in”

      10 million are impacted NOW … 100 million impacted next year .. This is just the opening act in this disaster.

  • Nixonfan

    “President Barack Obama in an Oct. 21 Rose Garden speech vowed that the website would be upgraded so that more Americans could buy insurance with less hassle.”

    Anyone making book?

  • CP21

    To date, more people have received notices that their health insurance has been cancelled than have signed up for Obozocare. Reports are that 300,000 in FL, 160,000 in Mexifornia, with many as many as 500,000 more estimated before year’s end there, and thousands more in PA and OH have been notified of cancellations because their current coverage does not meet Obiecare’s “standards”. Bad news for them because when they do sign up for ACA insurance, the premiums will be double or more with deductibles that are four times what they are now…really bad news. Can’t wait for DeMOOCHERcrats running for reelection to explain this to millions of their constituents in the run-up to the 2014 midterm elections….I guess these loser Dems should have read the bill before they voted yes and ignored the wicked witch of the west, Nancy Pelosi from Loon Francisco.

  • DannyE

    When the elections start, the democrats will run from obamacare like they do from the admission that their party started the KKK.

    • Stephen

      The rats are fleeing the ship now!

  • moderate Guy

    No surprise that most of the Demokrat scum in Congress is opposed to any measure that would actually help Americans deal with the ObamaCare disaster, for purely ideological, zealously extremist reasons.

  • Mygoodness

    I like the way Ms Nunn has “signed on”. The fact that she believes in abortion on demand and has been endorsed by Jane Fonda will cost her dearly south of I 20 and North of I 585. She has a name nothing else.

  • DocinPA

    Well good, I hope they dither and dither some more. Because the chances of ObamaCare working by Dec. 1, or at any other time within the next 6 months, are about zero. So, keep scheming, progs. I hope you spin and waffle and bloviate right up to when SMOD (the Sweet Meteor Of Death) strikes your leftist butts.

  • Alexis

    Ted Cruz is not just winning The Whole War against ObamaCare – he is now winning the Battle that Obama and the GOP leadership tried to steal from him.
    What is most astounding about these creatures who perpetrate a ‘Cult of (their) Personality’, is that not one of them has ever managed to solve the problems ‘of their own personality’ – not to mention, to have solved the problems of their lives. And, they have the gall to promote themselves as having solutions for society’s problems?
    Obama and Hillary think they are sooooo clever. They call for discussions about their (own) most lethal agenda, the NSA?: Really? Secrecy is their strongest suit – along with the loss of your right to privacy, and she wants you to have a B###h les####n in your face for the rest of your life as America’s Big Brother?

    Really? How quaint. She has focused on a legit issue, that she aided Barack Obama in abusing, bypassing Constitutional Law to do so: (Surveillance of American’s without warrant is a Federal offense). But, her every comment and his every speech on the these topics state the issues ‘as if’ they would like nothing more than to remedy the problems – that, they alone, have created and are digging deeper ever moment of every day..

    Were this not so there would be no basis for their attempt to manipulate The Crowd in pretense of wanting to ‘solve the problem’. This isn’t a ‘difference of ideological visions’ – as Obama has just stated. It’s a difference in ‘countries’! Barack Obama, Hillary and Bill Clinton and – and their respective entourage of treasonous criminals – are in the wrong country – we do not do Gulags or Ovens here – we (did) do a representative democracy until Hillary Clinton brought her vision of ‘HealthCare’ to America as her vision of a Communist Global Village — and, as her means of ‘controlling society to transform it into an Orwellian Pig Farm: Her Vision of a Fascist government. One must give her and Bill credit for effort. .

    As it didn’t work for them the first time around, they passed that mantle to Barack Obama, whose vision of using ‘HealthCare to finalize America’s slavery to a Commuist-Fascist governance was helped by them, and by those who came before them: JFK, RFK, LBJ and the Once and only (lying) KIng, MLK.
    They’ve been leaping off of the shoulders of America’s first Communist President, FDR. America could have easily had Norman Thomas as POTUS, as to have had FDR – except that FDR’s family’s heritage, better qualified him for the exploits of confiscating other people’s gold – for the purpose of exploiting political favors. .… “A BOUDICA POINT OF VIEW: Take No Prisoners”

  • Ohio4TEA

    Hypocrite! What a hypocrite! Manchin and Nunn talked down to Republicans who were asking for a delay just a few weeks ago.

    What hypocrites for now trying to win people’s favor after voting against a delay!

  • DrSquishy

    Reid will NEVER allow that bill to come to the floor for a vote so who cares.

  • DrSquishy

    No headache since the Manchin bill will NEVER be brought up for a vote.

    Reid won’t allow it.

  • Santiago Alemedia

    Any individual can skip buying health insurance this year and just take a $60 hit on their taxes. Anyone who does, I would hope, would also show the courage of their convictions and not seek medical attention they cannot afford during that year.

  • BeachD1

    A simple solution is threesteps to sanity. First, extend the ACA sign up to April, extend the IRS filing to May, backcharge the Republican Party the 24 Billion they cost US with the shutdown.

    • TravisJSays

      Your solution like Obama’s lies is a total insult to the millions who are being hurt by Obamacare’s premium increases.

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