The individual mandate requires each American to buy health insurance or face IRS fines.
A so-called moderate Democrat, Manchin was governor of West Virginia from 2005 to 2010 when he won a special election to fill the seat of Sen. Robert Byrd who died in office. Manchin was elected to a full six-year term in the Senate last year.
Manchin reportedly believes delaying the individual mandate would be a compromise that could bridge the gap between Senate Democrats and House Republicans over the continuing resolution to fund the federal government. It’s unclear if any other Democrat would join Manchin in agreeing to a delay, however. House Republicans themselves are reportedly also considering a one-year postpone of the mandate.
“There’s no way I could not vote for it,” Manchin said according to the Bloomberg news agency. “It’s very reasonable and sensible. Don’t put the mandate on the American public right now. If you know you couldn’t bring the corporate sector, you gave them a year, don’t you think it’d be fair?”
Although the Obama adminstration postponed the employer mandate for one year, many firms around the country have still put their hiring plans on the back burner, or have decided to downgrade workers into part-time status, to avoid the Obamacare mandate entirely that applies to companies with 50 or more full-time workers. Obamacare currently defines full-time work as 30 or more hours per week. Some employers have already shifted their part-time workforce into Obamacare exchanges. Various large employers have already reached the conclusion that it might be more cost effective to drop employee health coverage completely even for full-time workers and pay the Obamacare employer penalty instead when it kicks in.
The Obamacare individual mandate, the centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act, was contested by Obamacare foes all the way to the US Supreme Court. In a 5-4 vote in June 2012, the high court decided in favor of the controversial individual mandate’s constitutionality. Chief Justice Roberts ruled that the mandate was a constitutional tax, a contention ironically denied by the Obama administration. Speculation is that Roberts originally was the fifth vote to toss out the mandate, but, for whatever reason, he changed sides at the 11th hour.