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White House now toying with mandate delay

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 22 2013 11:35 a.m. MDT

After a government shutdown fought largely over GOP efforts to delay the individual health insurance mandate, the failures of the new health care website rollout have the White House toying with delaying the mandate after all.

Susan Walsh, Associated Press

After a government shutdown fought largely over GOP efforts to delay the individual health insurance mandate, the failures of the new health care website rollout have the White House toying with delaying the mandate after all.

In a combative White House briefing Monday, spokesman Jay Carney refused to directly answer whether the administration was considering delaying the individual mandate, but gave hints in that direction.

"Americans who have access to affordable insurance would need to have insurance by March 31," Carney said, according to the Washington Post. "People who do not have access to affordable care due to a state not expanding Medicaid, for example, or due to other factors will not be penalized."

The question is premature, according to some in the White House.

"If we don't have it fixed in time is a hypothetical that we don't expect to encounter," White House communications director Jen Palmieri told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell. "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."

Speculation about a delay built after earlier in the day President Obama addressed the issue in a Rose Garden rally, where he announced a "tech surge" to fix the website's problems.

"Precisely because the product is good, I want the cash registers to work; I want the checkout lines to be smooth," Obama said, according to a BBC report. "And there's no excuse for the problems, and these problems are getting fixed."

"Obamacare costs too much and it's not working the way they promised," Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said on Monday, the BBC report added. "It's time for the president to consider delaying this rushed effort."

Email: eschulzke@desnews.com

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