WASHINGTON -– Two Senate Democrats have put forward separate plans that would push back enforcement of some of the Affordable Care Act's provisions while the Obama administration addresses what they see as problems with the law.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) renewed his call for a one-year delay on the law's individual mandate, which requires most Americans to obtain insurance, in an appearance on ABC's "This Week." "Nobody should be forced to buy a policy that costs more than what they had and is inferior to what they had," Manchin said. "Those things have to be worked out."
Manchin announced on Wednesday that he was joining a Republican effort to delay the mandate. He has suggested that the penalty for not having health insurance should not go into effect until January 2015.
"The new markets that are opening up basically is going to be good, but it has to be affordable. You have to work through this," Manchin said. "The transition period of one year is very reasonable and doable."
Manchin said he has no indication of whether the White House might accept his proposal for a delay. "I'm not sure," he said. "I haven't spoken in detail with them."
So far, Manchin is the only Senate Democrat to endorse the Republicans' calls for a delay on the individual mandate. But a number of other Democrats have called for an extension of the open enrollment deadline due to problems with the rollout of Healthcare.gov, the federal website that allows people to compare and purchase insurance plans.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) authored a letter to the White House, which 10 Democrats have signed, calling for the March 31 deadline to be extended.
"We're hearing from lots of constituents in New Hampshire that they want to enroll in health insurance, that they can't because of the problems with the website," Shaheen said on CBS' "Face The Nation" Sunday. "The rollout has been a disaster. And so what I'm proposing is that we extend the period in which people can enroll, so we can make sure we get as many people who want health insurance able to enroll and be able to be covered."
The Obama administration has said that the problems with the website will be fixed in time for people to purchase insurance before March 31.
"My goal is to fix the Affordable Care Act, to make sure people can get that access to health care," Shaheen said. "Unlike a lot of the proposals that we've seen from people whose goal is to repeal it, to make sure it doesn't work, I want it to work."