Nine Dems propose mandate delay

Nine House Democrats on Wednesday proposed legislation that would delay the individual health insurance mandate penalties under ObamaCare until the HealthCare.gov site is fully functional.

The Health Care Access Fairness and Penalty Delay Act, H.R. 3425, would require the Department of Health and Human Services's inspector general to certify that the site is working. Once that certification is made, people would have 90 days to enroll in an insurance plan, and penalties for the individual mandate would not kick in until 30 days later.

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Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.), who sponsored the bill, said none of the current enrollment and penalty deadlines would change under the bill if the administration meets its goal of fixing the website by Nov. 30. But he said the bill is needed in case website problems linger.

Eight House Democrats are co-sponsors of Lipinski's bill: Reps. Ron Barber (Ariz.), John Barrow (Ga.), Pete Gallego (Texas.), Joe Garcia (Fla.), Patrick Murphy (Fla.), Scott Peters (Calif.), Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), and Filemon Vela (Texas).

All but Vela are top Republican targets heading into 2014 and have faced attacks from the National Republican Congressional Committee in recent days that are focused on the botched website rollout.

"It is unacceptable that the administration and its contractors produced a website with so many problems and have been unable to fix it," said Lipinski. "This must be rectified as soon as possible, but if it is not done in a timely manner, it would be deeply unfair to our constituents to direct them to use a poorly functioning portal in order to comply with the law."

Lipinski noted that he did not vote for ObamaCare, but said now that it is law, "we need to do everything we can to try to make it work."

His bill reflects the growing frustration in both parties with the failed launch of ObamaCare's online health insurance market. Lipinski's bill is a more moderate step than the bills Republicans have proposed, which include a full year delay of the individual mandate.

However, some Republicans have proposed a bill similar to Lipinski's, which would delay the individual mandate until the Government Accountability Office certifies that HealthCare.gov is working.

— Alexandra Jaffe contributed to this story. 

— This story was updated at 9:47 a.m.

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