White House press secretary Jay Carney on Monday sidestepped questions about whether the administration would delay the individual mandate if technical glitches continue on the Obamacare website.
Carney told reporters that the administration was focused on fixing the technical problems which have left most consumers unable to register for the healthcare law’s new insurance exchanges.
But he added that some consumers without insurance would not be penalized as the law is now written.
“Americans who have access to affordable insurance would need to have insurance by March 31st. 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. That's part of the existing law,” he told reporters.
Carney would not say if “other factors” covered problems with the website preventing people from enrolling.
Carney stressed that the administration was still early in the enrollment period, with the insurance exchanges taking effect next year.
“We are focused now, in the beginning of the fourth week, at the end of the third week of a six month process, on making sure that Americans out there understand that there are a variety of ways to get the information about the health care plans available to them, the tax credits available to them and a variety of ways to enroll and purchase insurance,” said Carney.
Carney's comments came as the administration on Monday made a push to reassure the public they working quickly to fix technical issues that have plagued the website enrolling consumers in new health exchanges
President Obama said “nobody’s madder” than him about the trouble-filled rollout at an event at the White House attended by consumers and small business owners he said had benefitted from the healthcare law.
Obama said that the healthcare law was more than a website and was a “good deal” for the American public, expanding healthcare coverage to millions.
But the administration has been on the defensive over the websites, with Republicans saying the problems highlight the unworkability of the entire law.
The White House earlier this year delayed the insurance mandate for businesses, and Republicans are now raising pressure for a similar delay for individual consumers. Under the healthcare law, individuals who can afford insurance and fail to purchase it must pay a fine.
“Whatever conclusions you draw about the way the law is written I think you can draw. 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,” said Carney on Monday.
“We're focused on making sure that millions of Americans in every state across the country do have access to affordable health insurance,” he added.