Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia broke ranks with fellow Democrats and said he’d support a stopgap spending plan that delays the individual mandate in President Barack Obama’s health-care law.
“There’s no way I could not vote for it,” Manchin said at a Bloomberg Government breakfast today. “It’s very reasonable and sensible.”
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The individual mandate is the linchpin of the law that requires most Americans to purchase health care through government-run insurance exchanges. Republicans, led by a group of newcomers in the House, are pushing to dismantle the health- care law and are using a ticking clock on a possible Oct. 1 government shutdown as leverage.
The Democratic-led Senate will vote in coming days on the stopgap spending plan and before sending it back to the House will remove language that defunds Obamacare. Obama and House Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, have said they won’t support using the budget to change the health law.
Manchin, 66, said he’d be willing to delay the individual mandate as part of the budget negotiations because the Obama administration in July gave businesses an extra year to provide their workers with health insurance.
“Don’t put the mandate on the American public right now,” Manchin said. “Give them at least a year. If you know you couldn’t bring the corporate sector, you gave them a year, don’t you think it’d be fair?”
House Republicans are considering whether to make changes once they get back the stopgap bill and send the measure to the Senate another time. They are mulling a one-year delay in the implementation of the health law’s individual mandate, among other potential changes.
Many of the House Republicans are backed by the limited- government Tea Party movement, which is trying to cripple the law. FreedomWorks, an organization tied to the Tea Party, is targeting college campuses, telling young adults to not sign up for the government-run insurance exchanges scheduled to roll out on Oct. 1.
Americans for Prosperity, a small-government group funded by billionaire industrialists David and Charles Koch, is spending almost $1 million on TV ads to do the same.
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Postponing the individual mandate would increase premiums and risk coverage for adults with pre-existing coverage, said David Simas, White House deputy senior adviser for communications.
“A delay of the individual requirement results in fewer people having insurance,” Simas said yesterday at the “Inside Politics with Bill Schneider” breakfast at the Third Way, a Washington research group aligned with Democrats.
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