Problems with the Obamacare insurance exchanges website have caused some Democrats to call for changes to the president’s signature law.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is working on a bill delaying for one year the $95 penalty for those who don’t purchase health insurance, according to a Senate aide. The penalty is intended to be the enforcement mechanism behind the individual mandate. Manchin’s bill will differ from a measure coming from Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a vocal Obamacare opponent, that would delay the individual mandate until six months after the Government Accountability Office certifies that HealthCare.gov is fully functional.
It’s no surprise that Manchin would support a delay in the penalty; in September, he said at a Bloomberg Government breakfast that he could back a continuing resolution that included a one-year delay of the individual mandate. “There’s no way I could not vote for it,” Manchin said at the time. “It’s very reasonable and sensible.” He later voted with Democrats to fund the government without a delay in the health care law, saying in a statement, “I do not believe we should hold our government hostage while we work through the health care law.”
Not all Democrats are asking for a delay. Another option is to extend the open-enrollment period beyond March 31, 2014, which is what Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., urged in a letter Tuesday to President Obama. She also wrote that because of the problems with the website, “I ask that you clarify how the individual responsibility penalty will be administered and enforced. If an individual is unable to purchase health insurance due to technical problems with enrollment, they should not be penalized because of lack of coverage.”
An Obamacare supporter, Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., told reporters in his Tampa office on Wednesday that problems with the health care website are “inexcusable” and “somebody ought to get fired” over them, according to his office. But his office said that the senator “declined to place blame on any one individual, agency or company for problems with the website.”
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"House Republicans are circulating the text of an amendment to their ObamaCare replacement bill that they believe could bring many conservatives on board. According to legislative text of the amendment," drafted by Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), "the measure would allow states to apply for waivers to repeal one of ObamaCare’s core protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Conservatives argue the provision drives up premiums for healthy people, but Democrats—and many more moderate Republicans—warn it would spark a return to the days when insurance companies could charge sick people exorbitantly high premiums."
President Trump on Wednesday "will order a review of national monuments created over the past 20 years with an aim toward rescinding or resizing some of them—part of a broader push to reopen areas to drilling, mining, and other development." Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told reporters on Tuesday said he'd be reviewing about 30 monuments.
"An emerging government funding deal would see Democrats agree to $15 billion in additional military funding in exchange for the GOP agreeing to fund healthcare subsidies, according to two congressional officials briefed on the talks. Facing a Friday deadline to pass a spending bill and avert a shutdown, Democrats are willing to go halfway to President Trump’s initial request of $30 billion in supplemental military funding."
The Michael Flynn story is not going away for the White House as it tries to refocus its attention. The White House has denied requests from the House Oversight Committee for information and documents regarding payments that the former national security adviser received from Russian state television station RT and Russian firms. House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz and ranking member Elijah Cummings also said that Flynn failed to report these payments on his security clearance application. White House legislative director Marc Short argued that the documents requested are either not in the possession of the White House or contain sensitive information he believes is not applicable to the committee's stated investigation.