Obama Administration Makes Secretive Last-Minute Deadline Change to Obamacare

Deadlines? Who needs ‘em? Not when it comes to
Obamacare anyway. Today was set to be the final day to sign up for
coverage that begins on January 1 of next year. But the
administration has quietly extended that deadline by an additional
24 hours. And by quietly, I mean, with no official announcement at
all. News of the delay comes from two unnamed sources who

confirmed the move
to The Washington

At midnight Monday, the official deadline arrives for Americans
to sign up through the new federal health insurance exchange for
health plans that begin Jan. 1. But, without any public
announcement, Obama administration officials have changed the rules
so that people will have an extra day to enroll, according to two
individuals with knowledge of the switch.

Over the weekend, government officials and outside IT
contractors working on the online marketplace’s computer system
made a software change that automatically gives people a Jan. 1
start date for their new coverage as long as they enroll by 11:59
p.m. on Christmas Eve. 

The administration had already delayed the deadline by a week;
the original plan had been to cut off sign ups on December 15. But
when it comes to Obamacare, the administration sticks to its
original plans about as well as the average person
sticks to
his or her New Year’s resolutions. Obamacare’s
deadlines are aspirational more than they are

Following the rocky rollout of Obamacare’s online
exchanges, and low sign-up numbers in the federal exchange system,
the administration tacked an extra week on for potential enrollees.
The move comes after an announcement late last Thursday night that
individuals whose existing health plans were canceled as a result
of the health law would be exempt from the individual mandate to
purchase health insurance next year.  

Not to put too fine a point on it, this is a weird move:
delaying the deadline…and not telling anyone? Not officially
anyway. Even if you count the leaks to The Post as an
announcement, it’s an awfully strange way to set up an

The last-minute timing is also rather telling. The change was
made over the weekend, just before the last to sign up, right
before a holiday week in which not many people are reading the
news. That sounds an awful lot like the administration is nervous
about sign-up numbers so far and is looking for way to nudge the
totals a little bit higher without looking too desperate.

But desperate, and perhaps slightly panicked, is exactly how
this looks. With lots of plan cancellations on the horizon, and
sign up numbers running far short of what was projected prior to
the launch of the exchanges, the administration appears to be
grasping for some way to keep the law’s potential failures at bay.
Hence the slew of late-breaking amendments and updates we’ve seen
over the past few weeks. 

Remember that just a couple weeks ago, when the administration
announced another set of Obamacare-related deadline changes, a
spokesperson for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

refused to say
that the administration was confident that more
people would gain coverage next January than lose it. Secretive,
last-minute changes like this don’t exactly suggest that the
administration’s confidence has increased since then. Neither
should anyone else’s. 

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/23/obama-administration-makes-secretive-las

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