- Seattle socialist: Minimum-wage discussion skewed by ‘right-wing’ GAO analysis
- U.N. warns of Muslim ‘cleansing’ in Central African Republic
- Senate blocks change to military sex assault cases
- Drug mix may have cured child born with HIV, doctors say
- De Blasio’s wife irks former mansion chef with ‘servant’ remark
- Russia’s neighbors shiver amid Putin’s Cold War moves in Ukraine
- New SAT: The essay portion is to become optional
- Military group can’t march to honor the fallen at Boston Marathon due to security changes
- Senate passes bills deleting ‘retarded’ from laws
- China announces biggest military hike in 3 years: We are not ‘boy scouts with spears’
Under pressure, 10 Senate Democrats push for Obamacare extension
The Obama administration is racing against the clock to smooth out problems with a federal Web portal, healthcare.gov, before the glitches permanently damage the Affordable Care Act and harden Republican calls to put off or scrap the individual mandate, a provision that requires Americans to hold some form of health care coverage or face penalties next year.
But Obamacare’s chief repairman says it will take until the end of November to get the website working for the “vast majority” of users, meaning the law’s Democratic cheerleaders will have to weigh concerns about the reforms against their allegiance to their party’s chief at the White House.
As if to underline the problems Sunday afternoon, the healthcare.gov site was down Sunday afternoon because site-hosting company Terremark had an Internet outage.
The issue, which festered on Capitol Hill last week, burst into view Friday when 10 Senate Democrats asked Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to extend Obamacare’s open-enrollment period past March 31, citing bugs within the website.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire is leading the charge to give people more time to use websites, known as exchanges, where Americans without health insurance can shop for private insurance.
The letter is signed by four Democrats who face re-election next year in traditionally red states — Sens. Mark Begich of Alaska, Mark L. Pryor of Arkansas, Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana and Kay R. Hagan of North Carolina.
“As long as these substantial technology glitches persist, we are losing valuable time to educate and enroll people in insurance plans, they wrote. “Our constituents are frustrated, and we fear that the longer the website is not functional, opportunities for people to log on, learn about their insurance choices, and enroll will be lost.”
Republicans reacted swiftly.
“Kay Hagan’s sudden change of position to delay the individual mandate could very well go down as the biggest and most politically motivated flip-flop in North Carolina’s history,” North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Claude Pope said Friday.
The senators’ letter is the clearest indication to date that Democrats are feeling real pressure to deal with the troubled debut of markets — particularly the federally run website that handles requests from 36 states — and the law’s penalties for failing to gain coverage.
The individual mandate is supposed to compel younger, healthier Americans who can afford insurance to acquire it, balancing out risk pools and keeping premiums in check when older, sicker consumers seek coverage because the law says they no longer can be turned down.
But Sen. Joe Manchin III, West Virginia Democrat, is calling for a one-year delay of the individual mandate, to 2015, when the fee for flouting the mandate is scheduled to be a more punitive $325 than the $95 floor in 2014.
“It will still induce people to get involved, but it will also give us the time to transition in,” he told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “I think we need that transition period to work out the things. And we’ve identified a lot of problems, a lot of glitches.”
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Tom Howell Jr. covers politics for The Washington Times. He can be reached at email@example.com.
- Tax-prep firms pitch in, cash in on Obamacare
- Obama tries to reassure Hispanics on Obamacare
- Half of uninsured look to Obamacare exchanges for coverage
- Another Obamacare deadline moved: Non-compliant plans get 2-year extension
- House votes to delay Obamacare individual mandate
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
By Tammy Bruce
- Bill Clinton cashes in on struggling nonprofit hospital
- DELAY: A revolution for the Constitution
- BRUCE: Obama's bizarre immigration rules
- Putin has transformed Russian army into a lean, mean fighting machine
- PRUDEN: Likening Putin to Hitler on Ukraine shows Hillary's shaky grasp of history
- R-S-P-E-C-T: Find out what it means for Obama
- Otter attacks, kills alligator at Florida wildlife refuge
- Unemployment insurance vote could happen next week
- Russian lawmaker wants to outlaw U.S. dollar, calls it a Ponzi scheme
- Senate rejects Gillibrand's overhaul of military's handling of sexual assaults
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again