White House won’t say whether Web site glitches will delay mandate

October 21, 2013

Will the problems with the health-care law's Web site lead to a delay in the individual mandate? The White House won't say directly either way.

White House press secretary Jay Carney speaks to reporters about the so-called "sequester" at the White House in Washington February 28, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
White House press secretary Jay Carney (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

White House press secretary Jay Carney was bombarded with questions Monday about whether the glitches  will lead the Obama administration to withdraw penalties for people who don't comply with the requirement that they carry insurance.

"Americans who have access to affordable insurance would need to have insurance by March 31," Carney said. "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."

Reporters pressed Carney on whether having trouble with the Affordable Care Act Web site also qualified as another exemption.

But Carney didn't have a satisfactory answer for them, instead suggesting that it was too early in the process to draw such conclusions.

"We're way still early in the process," Carney said. "So you're talking about a Feb. 15 and a March 31 deadline. It is Oct. 21 today. So let's be clear about that. We're three weeks into this."

A reporter asked Carney if it would be correct to say that the administration is looking into flexibility on the individual mandate because of the Web site problems.

Carney appeared to say "no," but then repeated his prior statement.

"Whatever conclusions you draw about the way the law is written, I think you can draw," Carney said. "The law is clear that if you do not have access to affordable health insurance, then you will not be -- being asked to pay a penalty because you haven't purchased affordable health insurance."

 

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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