By DANIEL SUDDEATH
NEW ALBANY —
U.S. Rep. Todd Young believes more now than when he first introduced the legislation that President Barack Obama should delay the individual and employer mandates for the Affordable Care Act.
Young, R-Ind., has a fellow GOP Hoosier in the Senate who feels the same way in Sen. Dan Coats.
The issues complicating people from being able to sign up for coverage on the president’s health care website further prove that “Obamacare” should be delayed, Coats said this week.
“It’s time for the president and Senate Democrats to delay the individual mandate,” Coats stated in a news release on Thursday. “I am hearing from many Hoosiers that can’t even sign up for Obamacare because the $400 million website is a complete disaster, yet the administration still insists on fining taxpayers if they don’t purchase health insurance.”
The six-week extension for obtaining insurance isn’t enough, Coats continued.
In July, Young sponsored the Fairness for American Families Act to delay the individual mandate by one year and the employer coverage requirement until 2015.
Young’s legislation passed the House, and Coats is trying to garner support in the Senate to pass a companion measure.
In an interview with the News and Tribune on Friday, Young said even the White House essentially conceded back in July when it originally delayed the employer mandate that the plan “wasn’t ready for prime time.”
“Why would we be mandating people with the threat of a tax penalty to buy a particular type of insurance that they might not otherwise want to buy when the vehicle to purchase this insurance is clearly broken?” Young said.
He added that more Democrats are stating their concerns with the Affordable Care Act in its current form, and that delaying implementation of the plan has bipartisan support.
Some Senate Democrats spoke out this week, calling for the March 31 deadline to be extended until issues with the coverage, including enrollment problems, are addressed.
“If we want this law to work, we’ve got to make it right, we’ve got to fix it,” Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., told the Associated Press last week.
According to the AP, six Senate Democrats up for re-election next year have asked to delay the individual mandate deadline beyond March 31.
The push by Coats and Young to delay implementation of the plan comes on the heels of a federal government shutdown that occurred largely over Republican attempts to block funding for the Affordable Care Act.
Whether Congress ultimately approves the legislation or not, bringing Coats’ bill to the Senate floor for a vote will at least get Democrats on the record as to whether they support a delay of the plan, Young said.
“If it doesn’t pass, it will almost certainly become an issue that their constituents will feel so strongly about that it could have some ramifications in 2014 as we hit an election year,” he said. “So there is a longer game at play here. For many of us it’s about trying to mitigate the pain that we feel like has been created by so many aspects of this law.”