Obamacare Deadline Delayed Despite HHS Testimony, CMS Claim

March 26, 2014 - 5:17 PM

The Obama White House has decided to extend the Obamacare enrollment deadline - even though HHS Sec. Kathleen Sebelius had testified that wouldn't happen and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) said that they didn't have the authority to delay the deadline.

First, let's look at the history of Obamacare delays, via Politico:

March 25: Final enrollment deadline extended. The March 31 deadline - the end of enrollment for 2014 - will be loosened for people with special sign-up circumstances.

March 14: High risk pools extended. The special, temporary coverage for people with serious pre-existing conditions - which was only supposed to last until the health insurance exchanges were in place - was extended a third time for another month.

Feb. 10: Employer mandate delayed. This time, businesses with between 50 and 100 workers were given until 2016 to offer coverage, and the mandate will be phased in for employers with more than 100 workers.

Jan. 14: High risk pools extended. The high-risk insurance pools, which originally had been slated to close Jan. 1, had already been extended once.

Dec. 24: Enrollment deadline extended. In a message on HealthCare.gov, customers were told they could get help finishing their Jan. 1 applications if they were already in line on Dec. 24.

Dec 12: Enrollment deadline extended. Customers on the federal enrollment website were given nearly two more weeks to sign up for coverage effective Jan. 1.

Nov. 27: SHOP delayed. Online enrollment for the federal health insurance exchanges for small businesses was delayed.

Nov. 21: Open enrollment delayed for 2015. The administration pushed back next year's enrollment season by a month.

July 2: Employer mandate delayed. The administration declared that it wouldn't enforce the fines in 2014 for businesses with more than 50 full-time workers who don't offer health coverage. The fines were pushed back to 2015.

Nov. 15, 2012: Exchange deadline delayed. The Department of Health and Human Services gave states an extra month to decide whether they would set up their own health insurance exchanges - a decision they announced just one day before the original deadline.

Again, concerning the latest delay, Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sebelius said two weeks ago that the deadline wouldn't be extended (via the Hill):

The Obama administration will not delay ObamaCare's individual mandate or the March 31 deadline for enrolling in the new healthcare law, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Wednesday [March 12].

Sebelius ruled out the changes during testimony to the House Ways and Means Committee, where Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) noted the administration has made dozens of other changes or delays to the law.

Given the problems caused by ObamaCare's faulty website last year, Brady asked Sebelius directly if delays to the individual mandate or enrollment deadline would be next.

"No, sir," Sebelius responded.

[...]

On a conference call with reporters on Tuesday [March 11], Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services spokeswoman Julie Bataille said even if officials wanted toher agency didn't have the authority to delay the enrollment deadline.

"We have no plans to extend the open enrollment period," Bataille said. "In fact, we don't actually have the statutory authority to extend the open enrollment period in 2014...and we have no plans to do so."