Washington Republicans push for delay of individual mandate law

President Barack Obama's landmark healthcare reform bill, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, has been experiencing some bumps in the road in recent weeks. The White House just announced that it would delay the employer mandate requirement an additional year, moving the deadline for many businesses to provide their employees with health insurance from Jan. 1, 2014, to Jan. 1, 2015. This move was in response to criticism from within the healthcare industry that the original employer mandate law was scheduled too early for effective and efficient implementation. Pushing the deadline back an additional year is designed to give small and large businesses more time to prepare themselves for the requirements of federal healthcare reform legislation.

The White House's decision to delay the employer mandate law has drawn a mix of support, criticism and skepticism from organizations on both sides of the ACA debate. Additionally, healthcare representatives and government officials have wondered what this delay will mean for the individual mandate law, which requires that all Americans have some sort of healthcare coverage by the same Jan. 1, 2014, deadline. According to the Associated Press, the federal government has not yet announced any plan to postpone the individual mandate law.

Criticism from congressional conservatives over ACA mandates
In the wake of the ACA's employer mandate delay, many top leaders of the Republican Party in Washington, D.C., are calling on the president to also postpone the individual mandate provision. While many of these congressional conservatives have opposed healthcare reform legislation from the start, they are now seizing this opportunity to criticize President Obama for supposedly supporting the needs of American businesses while ignoring similar concerns about individual citizens, reported the Associated Press.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and several other top Republicans wrote President Obama a letter expressing their concern with the lack of an individual mandate delay. Additionally, Rep. Boehner restated his intention to hold a vote in the House of Representatives to permanently remove the individual mandate law from the ACA. 

Despite this criticism from Republican leaders, the White House has noted that it will not delay the individual mandate law, as the provision is flexible enough to accommodate the needs of Americans who may be in difficult financial circumstances.

"[This criticism is] pretty rich coming from leaders who have now voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act going on 40 times, and who promised to do it again, to charge up that hill, only again not to reach the top, rather than focus on the work that the American people want done because they have no alternative," White House press secretary Jay Carney told media outlets.

Defending the individual mandate as it is
While Republicans have found themselves straddling the line of supporting and opposing aspects of the ACA due to the employer mandate delay, Democrats are buckling down in support of the individual mandate's original 2014 deadline as well as the law in general.

According to The New York Times, Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., the ranking Democratic member of the House Ways and Means Committee, downplayed the strength of conservative arguments against healthcare reform and the individual mandate, noting that the federal government has a subsidy program to assist individuals with health insurance who do not have access to affordable care otherwise.

"If you take away the individual mandate, that would dismantle a core concept of universal coverage," Rep. Jim McDermott of Washington, the senior Democrat on the Ways and Means subcommittee on health, told the news source. "We have been waiting for national health care coverage since Teddy Roosevelt, for more than 100 years. One more year is not the end of the earth."