By Benjamin Goad - 04/06/14 10:00 AM EDT
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) maintained Sunday that the Affordable Care Act’s oft-delayed employer mandate must remain part of the law, pushing back against recent suggestions from President Obama’s former top spokesman that the provision would be scrapped.
During an appearance on CNN’s "State of the Union," the California Democrat touted last week’s announcement that roughly 7.1 million people signed up for health insurance through the law’s insurance exchanges, surpassing a crucial benchmark.
“We are celebrating the fact that we have over 7 million who have signed up,” Pelosi said, adding that she would not support a version of the law that did not include its requirement for most businesses to offer their worker coverage or pay a penalty.
“The employer mandate, the individual mandate are an integral part,” she said. “This is an initiative that has strong pillars in it that relate to each other.”
The employer mandate, largely opposed by business groups and congressional Republicans, has been delayed on multiple occasions, with the White House saying it wanted to provide companies with more flexibility.
Speaking Wednesday to a crowd in Colorado, former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs made headlines by predicting the provision — a cornerstone of the president’s signature law — would be abandoned.
“I don’t think the employer mandate will go into effect,” Gibbs said. “It’s a small part of the law. I think it will be one of the first things to go.”
On Sunday, Pelosi downplayed the remarks, saying of Gibbs: “I don’t know who his clients are, or what his perspective is.”
“I don’t know why we’re focusing that — one person says one thing,” Pelosi said. “Seven million people signed up.”
The minority leader acknowledged that some Democrats would likely distance themselves from ObamaCare during their fall election campaigns. Democrats, already outnumbered in the House, are expected to lose more seats in November.
However, Pelosi predicted that many Democrats would embrace the law, particularly in light of the recent surge in participation.
“It’s really pretty exciting for those of us who made this fight,” she said.