Pelosi: No virtue in delaying health law's individual mandate

The GOP push to delay the individual insurance mandate under ObamaCare has no merit whatsoever, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) argued Thursday.

"I don't think it's virtuous at all," she said.

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The Democratic leader was pushing back against Republican critics of President Obama's healthcare law who maintain that the administration's recent decision to delay the employer mandate is indication that individuals should receive the same reprieve.

Pelosi defended the distinction Thursday, noting with nuance that the employer mandate — the requirement that larger businesses provide workers with health insurance or pay a fine — technically remains on track for 2014. What the administration delayed, she pointed out, was the stipulation that businesses report to the government to prove they're adhering to the law, a delay that will make the mandate unenforceable until 2015.

"The mandate was not delayed," Pelosi said during a press briefing in the Capitol. "Certain reporting by businesses that could be perceived as onerous, that reporting requirement was delayed, and partially to review how it would work and how it could be better.

"It was not a delay of the mandate for the businesses, and there shouldn't be a delay of the mandate for individuals," she said.

Announced last week by the Treasury Department, the delay of the employer mandate means that one of the most controversial provisions of the law won't take hold until after the 2014 elections.

Republicans quickly accused the president of playing politics to avoid a backlash at the polls, and used the move as ammunition to support their long-held charges that the entire law is unworkable and should be repealed.

On Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced that the lower chamber will vote next week on bills delaying both the employer and individual mandate.

“The president delayed ObamaCare’s employer mandate, but he hasn’t delayed the mandate on individuals and families," Boehner said. "This is unfair, and it is indefensible."