At Minimum, Individual Mandate Should be Stopped until Government Websites are Fully Functional

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) today cosponsored legislation to delay the health insurance individual mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) until the insurance exchanges are certified as fully functional.

The Mississippi Senators are original cosponsors of the Delay Until Fully Functional Act, introduced Monday by Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). The bill would ensure that American citizens are not penalized for being unable to enroll using the faulty American Health Benefit Exchanges.

Under the PPACA or “Obamacare,” the individual mandate requires uninsured Americans to purchase healthcare insurance by Dec. 15 or face a penalty tax. Since its launch on Oct. 1, the federal website has been largely unworkable and actually crashed over the weekend.

“This legislation acknowledges what the Obama administration will not admit—that its insurance exchange websites, developed at great expense to taxpayers, are an unworkable mess. Mississippians should not be taxed for being unable to use dysfunctional websites,” Cochran said.

“The difficulties that Americans are facing with the Obamacare website highlight the rampant problems associated with the health-care law,” Wicker said. “People in Mississippi should not be penalized because of the Administration’s failed rollout of the online health-care exchanges. It is not fair or right to force Americans to enroll in a broken system.”

The legislation would delay the individual mandate and require that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) study the exchange websites and report to Congress within 30 days. If the exchanges are not found to be fully functional, the GAO would conduct subsequent studies and report every 60 days until the Comptroller General determines that the exchanges are fully functional. At that point, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) inspector general would be required to certify the results of the GAO report. The individual mandate could be reinstated six months after the HHS inspector general certification.

FreedomWorks, Americans for Prosperity, Americans for Tax Reform and the National Taxpayers Union have endorsed this legislation, which is also sponsored by Senators John Boozman (R-Ark.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.).

A companion bill was introduced in the House of Representatives by Representative Trey Radel (R-Fla.).

Thad Cochran/Roger Wicker Press Release