Good news: if the uninsured “tried” to sign up for healthcare coverage via HealthCare.gov -- but couldn’t do so by the looming March 31st deadline -- they can get an extension, the Washington Post reported Tuesday night. Simple as that:
The Obama administration has decided to give extra time to Americans who say that they are unable to enroll in health-care plans through the federal insurance marketplace by the March 31 deadline.
Federal officials confirmed Tuesday evening that all consumers who have begun to apply for coverage on HealthCare.gov, but who do not finish by Monday, will have until about mid-April to ask for an extension.
Will those looking for coverage actually have to prove that they had an issue signing up for Obamacare in order to get an extension? Absolutely not:
Under the new rules, people will be able to qualify for an extension by checking a blue box on HealthCare.gov to indicate that they tried to enroll before the deadline. This method will rely on an honor system; the government will not try to determine whether the person is telling the truth.
The rules, which will apply to the federal exchanges operating in three dozen states, will essentially create a large loophole even as White House officials have repeatedly said that the March 31 deadline was firm. The extra time will not technically alter the deadline but will create a broad new category of people eligible for what’s known as a special enrollment period.
This umpteenth delay is an implicit admission that not enough Americans are signing up for health care coverage. Of course, the administration touted there 5 million enrollment numbers last week as evidence signups were going smoothly -- that myth is debunked here -- but most health care policy wonks recognized that this was at best wishful thinking.
Surely the Obama administration’s latest unilateral delay will give them extra time to increase signups. But do they even have the legal authority to extend the enrollment deadline? Well, not according to them(!):
Admin TWO WEEKS AGO: "we don't actually have the statutory authority to extend the open enrollment period in 2014." http://t.co/PRIGE8KpsW— Phil Kerpen (@kerpen) March 26, 2014
They did so anyway -- even though the administration didn’t think they had the “statutory authority” to do so in the first place. Amazing.
UPDATE: RNC Chairman Reince Priebus released the following statement:
“Another day, another ObamaCare delay from the same Obama Administration that won’t work with Republicans to help Americans suffering from the unintended consequences of the Democrats’ failed healthcare law. Democrats in leadership may say they are doubling down on ObamaCare but you have to wonder how many more unilateral delays their candidates running in 2014 can withstand.”