Sen. Joe Manchin
Sen. Joe Manchin said he opposes the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, a section of the law requiring all U.S. citizens have health insurance coverage, but would not support a government shut-down to see the mandate abolished or delayed.
Manchin’s press office released the following statement Thursday afternoon:
“I have always opposed the individual mandate, and I continue to have concerns with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the cost and choices West Virginians will have in the health care exchanges.
“That being said, I do not believe that this issue should be used to shut down the government, and I will not vote to shut down the government.
“We need to work together as Americans to solve these problems so we can get our economy back on track and create American jobs.”
News broke this morning that Manchin would break ranks with his fellow Democrats to support a bill that would prevent a government shutdown while delaying the individual mandate.
“There’s no way I could not vote for it,” Manchin said, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. “It’s very reasonable and sensible.”
Manchin, speaking at a Bloomberg Government breakfast on Thursday, said President Barack Obama‘s administration already has given businesses until 2014 to provide health insurance for employees.
“Don’t put the mandate on the American public right now,” Manchin said, according to Bloomberg. “Give them at least a year. If you know you couldn’t bring the corporate sector, you gave them a year, don’t you think it’d be fair?”
Congress has until Sept. 30 to pass a budget, or else almost all operations of the U.S. government will shut down. Members of the Republican-led House of Representatives passed a funding bill last Friday that would keep the government open, but also strike down the Affordable Care Act.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, has made it clear any budget bill that also shuts down the healthcare law will not survive the upper chamber.
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Manchin’s opposition to the individual mandate is not surprising.
He told ABC news more than two years ago he didn’t like that section of Obamacare because it forced citizens to purchase health insurance.
“I’ve always had a concern and a problem with the mandate, that we were forcing it, basically saying by the law of the land you have to buy the product,” he told ABC.
The individual mandate is considered by many the cornerstone of Obama’s Affordable Care Act, which passed Congress in 2010. The law requires citizens to have health insurance coverage or pay a fine. Many claimed the mandate was unconstitutional, but the U.S. Supreme Court released an opinion last year upholding the provision.
The mandate hinges on the idea there are more healthy people in the world than sick people.
By requiring all the healthy people to have health insurance, whether they need it right now or not, their premiums will help balance out all the unhealthy people who are racking up lots of hospital bills.
That, in theory, would keep health insurance premiums and healthcare costs low for everyone.