The Obama administration is delaying online Obamacare enrollment for small businesses in federal health exchanges for a month according to multiple reports. Small businesses that wish to enroll in the exchanges to purchase health insurance for employees will be forced to fax, call, or make purchases for their employees in person.
And while the Obama administration's delay is not the first — the White House previously delayed implementation of the employer mandate until 2015 among other unplanned postponements — this delay comes at a time when the White House is attacking Republicans for wanting to delay parts of the president's health care law.
According to Politico, House Republican leadership is considering adding a yearlong delay of the Obamacare individual mandate to a Senate bill that would avert a government shutdown.
"It's unconscionable to imagine that there are those in the Congress — and now, apparently, because he couldn't persuade them otherwise, the speaker of the house has joined them — who believe that it is the right thing to do to threaten another recession, threaten economic calamity in this country and the globe, over their ideological desire to defund or delay the Affordable Care Act," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said last Thursday.
Carney hammered Republicans twice more in his Thursday briefing for wanting to delay the law.
"And we can't go to the nation — or we shouldn't — they shouldn't go to the nation and say, we couldn't get this through normal means, so we're going to threaten your job, your welfare, your security and future, so that we can defund Obamacare, or delay it — a proposition which would actually increase the deficit," he said.
"He understands we need to do more, but we need to do it in a way that's fair to the middle class," said Carney. "What is not fair to the middle class is a shutdown that hurts the middle class. What is not fair to the middle class is default for the sake of the ideological goal of defunding or delaying the Affordable Care Act, 'I'm either going to take your job — make sure you lose your job, or take away your access to health insurance' — that's the choice."
In his Wednesday briefing the day before, Carney also hit Republicans for wanting to delay the law in the upcoming fight to fund the government.
"The irony is that they are doing it in the name of trying to defund or delay, or defeat in some other way, a law designed to provide access to insurance for millions of Americans — to health insurance — a law that is already providing tangible benefits to millions of Americans; a law, as I said the other day, that when implemented will ensure that at least close to 6 in 10 uninsured Americans will now have the capability of buying insurance for less than $100 a month."
Asked about specifically why the White House wasn't open to Republican-pitched Obamacare delays while the White House had already delayed some key portions of the law, Carney said previous delays were a "very small portion" and "the right and responsible thing to do."
"On the employer responsibility provision, which represents a very small portion of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, it was the right and responsible thing to do, reacting in part to the requests of businesses to delay implementation of that for a year."
"As every Republican who is pushing the idea of delaying implementation of the individual responsibility provision, they know that that is the heart of the Affordable Care Act. It is what is essential to ensuring that everyone in your extended family who has a preexisting condition can still get health insurance and isn't blackballed by the insurance companies to making that work, making sure that the individual responsibility provision is there."
"Furthermore, delaying it would do what? Add to the deficit," Carney concluded. "So in the name of deficit reduction, Republicans are saying we should add to the deficit, even as we're taking away health care for millions of Americans. Seems like a bad idea."
Andrew Kaczynski is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Andrew Kaczynski at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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