Carney: "If You Cannot Afford Affordable Health Insurance" You Won't Pay A Penalty

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PIERS MORGAN, CNN: The president said today that the site has been visited by nearly 20 million Americans, more than 500,000 have apparently submitted applications. In terms of the other obvious question, which is the penalty that comes from the end of March, to, you have to subscribe by then or get a penalty. Have you considered delaying that and at what point would you consider delaying that if the answer is no at the moment?

JAY CARNEY: Well, first of all, it is important to know, Piers, that we are three weeks into a six-month process. So this is still [in its] very early days. And as was the case in Massachusetts when they had a similar program at a state level and as was the case with federal programs like Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), or Medicare Part D program, in the early stages people spend a lot of time shopping, most of the enrollment comes later as the deadlines near. So, we fully expect to have all of our systems operating more efficiently as we approach those deadlines.

Secondly, as the law is written, if you can't afford, or you cannot find affordable health insurance -- for example, if you are a resident of a state where the governor declined to expand Medicaid and that is a number of states, mostly with Republican governors, who declined to expand Medicaid, therefore you cannot get the affordable health insurance you otherwise would have been able to get -- you're not going to pay a penalty for that. So, that's already built in, those protections are built into the law as written. Right now we're focused on making the system work because the product here is not a web site, the product is affordable health insurance for Americans who haven't had it in the past.

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