By Avik Roy
Though the Obama administration repeatedly insisted that its March 31 enrollment deadline for Obamacare’s first year was “firm,” many observers predicted that the administration would combat lagging sales of health law-sponsored insurance plans by extending that deadline. Sure enough, on Tuesday night the White House indicated that it would be postponing that drop date in order to squeeze as many people as possible into the program.
Amy Goldstein of the Washington Post broke the story. Goldstein reports that the revised deadline “will apply to the federal exchanges operating in three dozen states” and extend for two to three weeks.
But that’s not what the Obama administration was saying until now. On March 11, Julie Bataille, the appropriately-surnamed spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said that “we have no plans to extend the open enrollment period. In fact, we don’t actually have the statutory authority to extend the open enrollment period in 2014.” On March 12, when Rep. Kevin Brady of the House Ways and Means Committee asked HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius: “Are you going to delay the open enrollment beyond March 31st?” Sebelius replied, “No, sir.”
Most importantly, the delay indicates that the Obama administration knows what we’ve all been concerned about: that while millions of people are signing up for Obamacare-sponsored insurance, the vast majority of those have been people who were previously insured. And if that’s true, the law isn’t helping the people it was meant to help. Two or three weeks, here or there, isn’t going to solve that problem.
Read more: Forbes.com
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