By Rich Kirchen
With 17 days left before the launch of a major thrust of Obamacare, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan told a Waukesha business audience that he is fighting for a delay of the law's requirement that small groups and uninsured individuals get health insurance.
"One of the things we're debating in Congress is how to best get this thing delayed," Ryan told the Waukesha County Business Alliance luncheon at the Sheraton Milwaukee in Brookfield. "Our whole point is this law is not ready for prime time."
As an example of the lack of readiness, Ryan cited a decision by the administration of president Barack Obama to delay by one year the insurance mandate for employers with 50 or more workers. Ryan, a Janesville Republican, said the mandate would have caused millions of people to lose their employer-provided coverage.
Ryan said it is unfair that the mandate remains in effect for individuals and small-group employers to comply by January 2014. Enrollment for the online insurance exchange is scheduled to start Oct. 1 for the coverage year starting Jan. 1, 2014.
"They delayed (the mandate) for big business -- they should give the same kind of forbearance for everybody else in America," Ryan said.
Republicans in Congress are trying to convince the Democrats who control the U.S. Senate and Obama himself that "it's not in their interest to roll out the law."
"Let's delay this thing -- that's the case we're making," Ryan said.
Ryan criticized problems with implementing subsidies for low-income Americans eligible for the online exchange or marketplace, problems with creating a data base for the exchange and insurance prices that are "going to skyrocket."
Critics who want Republicans in the House of Representatives to de-fund the law or shut down the government don't understand how federal funding works, Ryan said. If the federal government was shut down, Obamacare would continue to operate as would other entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare, Ryan said.
"If we want to get this law delayed or even defunded, what you have to do is have a guy named Obama sign (defunding or delay) into law," Ryan said. "Therein lies our challenge."