Washington (CNN) – White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was dismissive Thursday of comments by Sen. Joe Manchin endorsing a one-year delay of the new health care law's individual mandate.
"The fact is you have to make the system work," Carney told reporters during the White House press briefing, arguing that one of the most popular aspects of the Affordable Care Act, the protection of those with preexisting conditions, cannot work without the individual mandate.
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Carney's assertion was in response to comments made by Manchin Thursday morning at a Bloomberg Government breakfast hosted in Washington. At that breakfast, the West Virginia Democrat said he would support a funding bill that includes a one-year delay for the requirement that virtually all Americans have health insurance or face a penalty fee.
"There's no way I could not vote for it," Manchin is quoted by Bloomberg as saying of such a resolution. "It's very reasonable and sensible."
When asked about Manchin's statements, Carney said that it was not a new position for the senator. Carney stressed that any effort to achieve that goal via the continuing resolution to fund the government would be irresponsible.
"Attaching it to a continuing resolution will not pass the Senate, will not become law, but will only draw us closer to a shutdown," Carney said of a delay. "It doesn't change anything."
Congress is fast hurtling towards an end-of-Monday deadline to pass a continuing resolution that would fund the government. House Republicans attached language to the bill that would defund the law, known as Obamacare, while funding everything else, which is a nonstarter in the Democrat controlled Senate.
Short of defunding or dismantling President Barack Obama's signature law, a delay in the individual mandate has been one of the most popular anti-Obamacare pushes by conservatives and even some liberals.
The argument, by Manchin and others, is that such a delay would be only fair to the American people after the Obama administration granted a similar delay to large businesses in their reporting requirement for providing health insurance to their employees.
To that, Carney and other Obamacare supporters argue that the individual mandate is the lynchpin of the entire law, the only way to ensure lower prices and put enough money in the system for insurers to affordably cover the sick and healthy alike.
The reason that those with preexisting conditions won't be denied insurance under Obamacare "is because of the expansion of the number people who will be covered and participate in these marketplaces provided by the Affordable Care Act through the individual mandate," Carney said.