Manchin: Delay ObamaCare mandate

Sen. Joe Manchin on Wednesday said he plans to back Republican legislation that would delay ObamaCare’s individual mandate to have insurance.

The West Virginia Democrat is set to announce during Wednesday night’s “The O'Reilly Factor” that he's joining forces with Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) on legislation that would delay the penalty by a year.

The host of the Fox show, Bill O’Reilly, on Tuesday encouraged Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) to recruit Manchin to sponsor the legislation, which would postpone the requirement until users can consistently access the ObamaCare website.

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"Well, we're going to give everybody a chance to be on the right side of this," Rubio said. "Eventually they're going to have to do something about it. Because it's going to take more than a few months to fix these Web sites and it's going to be unfair to go after people for not buying health insurance when the ability to buy it is not being made available."

Manchin has long voiced his opposition to the mandate, which would require uninsured individuals to either purchase health coverage or pay a fine.

Supporters of ObamaCare say its necessary to offset the costs involved with benefits now available under the program, such as making sure people with preexisting conditions could purchase coverage.

Manchin's move comes as Sens. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) said Wednesday the the Obama administration should extend the enrollment period for those looking to purchase healthcare due to the problems with the federal enrollment site. He joins Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), who on Tuesday became the first Senate Democrat to join Republicans in asking for an extension.

"I believe, given the technical issues, it makes sense to extend the time for people to sign up," Pryor said in a statement. "In addition, the Administration should state clearly how the enforcement mechanism will work if people can’t sign up in time. We all want to see the law work, and I hope the Administration will take a hard look at this reasonable suggestion."

White House press secretary Jay Carney on Wednesday sidestepped a question about whether the administration would consider a delay in the law's individual mandate, although the spokesman did hint that the administration did not view that move as warranted.

On Monday, Carney said that those “without access to affordable care due to a state not expanding Medicaid or other factors” would not be penalized under the law.

But on Wednesday, Carney said that "today Americans have access to affordable coverage," and noted that, in addition to the website, consumers could purchase healthcare coverage by phone, mail or in person.

"From day one, people have been able to enroll," Carney said.