"While I applaud Senator Manchin for trying to take a moderate approach that he believes is a compromise, it's of utmost importance that he realizes his position will cost West Virginians and hospitals dearly."
Perry Bryant, executive director of West Virginians for Affordable Health Care, said a delay would mean "health plans in our marketplace would get fewer younger, healthier people and more older, sicker people.
"This would have a very damaging effect on Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield -- the one insurance company that stepped up to the plate and entered the marketplace," Bryant said. "Other insurance companies didn't have the fortitude to try this and make this work. Sen. Manchin's proposal would hurt the one entity that stepped up to the plate."
Earley said, "If you defer the mandate and eliminate the tax [for those who don't enroll], you eliminate one of the key motivators for people to buy policies.
"The Congressional Budget Office estimated it would cause an increase in insurance premiums by 15 percent to 20 percent next year. It would spiral in the future.
"I think that is conservative. We will release our own analysis in two or three weeks. We are still confident they [Congress] will get this fixed by early November. And the deadline for people to sign up is not until December 15."
Earley also stressed that people who make up to 400 percent of federal poverty levels can be eligible for subsidies to make their health insurance more affordable. People are eligible for Medicaid if they earn up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level.
(Federal poverty levels for 2013 are $11,490 for individuals and $23,550 for a family of four.)
Manchin said, "What we are saying is to remove the penalties for the first year. Then the penalties kick in."
Insurance companies pushed Congress to make everyone get insurance coverage, Manchin said.
"If you want us to insure people with pre-existing conditions, they told us, you have to get people who are healthier. I think everyone wants insurance that is affordable. On the other hand, you have to have a marketable product. That is what we are working on right now.
"You can't put a family in [financial] jeopardy by forcing them to buy insurance," Manchin said. "All these things have to be worked through. It is a mammoth undertaking."
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.