Jay Carney: No Access to Obamacare, No Penalty

Monday, 21 Oct 2013 06:06 PM

By Courtney Coren

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White House press secretary Jay Carney implied Monday that the problems with the website set up to give Americans access to affordable healthcare, as promised by Obamacare, could be a reason to delay the individual mandate portion of the law.

While he didn't state explicitly that the individual mandate would be delayed because of the website issues, he did say that under the Affordable Care Act, if Americans couldn't access affordable health care, they wouldn't be penalized.

"People that do not have access to affordable care, due to a state not expanding Medicaid — and there are states out there who are depriving their own residents of access to expanded Medicaid because they made that choice — or due to other factors, will not be penalized," Carney said.

"The law is clear that if you do not have access to affordable health insurance, then you will not be asked to pay a penalty because you haven't purchased affordable health insurance," he said.

Jonathan Karl of ABC News pressed further, asking whether the website "mess" could be one of those other factors, but Carney avoided answering the question directly.

Carney emphasized that the website has been up for only a few weeks, while Americans have six months to enroll, so it is too early in the process to make that kind of decision. The deadline to sign up for health insurance is March 31.

The White House press briefing took place after a speech President Barack Obama gave Monday, flanked by Americans who reportedly successfully signed up for health insurance on the new health insurance exchange website that has been at the center of the Obamacare rollout since the site opened Oct. 1.

Story continues below video.

Video from C-Span of press briefing. I clipped the video to only include what was relevant to this story:

The president said there was "no excuse" for the broken website.

"There's no sugarcoating it," Obama said. "Nobody is more frustrated than I am."

According to The Hill, White House Director of Communications Jen Palmieri later said she expects the website problems will be fixed and the White House won't need to delay the individual mandate because of it.

"If we don't have it fixed in time is a hypothetical that we don't expect to encounter," she said. "We're taking this day by day, and we're making progress every day. And we're going to keep at it, and in the meantime, we're going to find these options of other ways for people to enroll."

House Speaker John Boehner's spokesman Brendan Buck said Republicans think the website problems should be reason enough for the president to delay the individual mandate.

"Does the president think Americans should be taxed for not buying a product from a website that doesn't work — and may not for some time?" Buck said.

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