Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) defended his work-in-progress legislation to delay the Obamacare individual mandate for one year, saying he doubts the problems can be fixed by the March 31, 2014 deadline for the uninsured to enroll or pay a tax penalty.
“I just felt, you know, that basically there’s a transition year that you need to make sure that the product’s right, that everything’s fine,” Manchin told TPM on Thursday. “We can fix it. The computer glitch can be fixed. But there’s the saying that you can’t make them buy something that’s not available for them to buy.”
“So you’ve got to make sure product’s right,” the senator said. “And I don’t know if you can do that by March, April, whatever. So we just said, make it certain, one date, January 1, 2015. And I think we can make that work.”
Manchin said he worries that the sign-up woes would keep “dragging on for long” in which case “you don’t have enough people that are signed up because they couldn’t for one reason or another, or the product wasn’t as encouraging or as enticing to them — whatever reason — then you’re going to have to look at it.”
He said he’s still unaware that any other Democratic senators support his plan to delay the mandate by one year.
Manchin called his proposal “strictly a transition” and pointed out that other Democrats have proposals to tweak different elements of Obamacare — Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) wants to delay the enrollment deadline and Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) wants to preserve “grandfathered” plans even if they don’t comply with Obamacare standards.
“We’re seeing if we can roll them all in — if people are comfortable rolling them all in [to one bill],” he said.