Another Obamacare Delay

If you like your plan, you can keep it — until 2016.

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 20: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius gives brief remarks at the beginning of a news conference about Medicare at HHS June 20, 2011 in Washington, DC. Sebelius announced a new report showing that more than 5 million Americans with Medicare took advantage of one or more recommended free preventive medical benefits made available by the Affordable Care Act. Preventive care services include 'wellness' visits, bone mass measurements and cardiovascular, colorectal cancer and diabetes screenings. 
National Journal
Sam Baker
March 5, 2014, 11:15 a.m.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion said Wed­nes­day that in­surers can wait un­til 2016 be­fore can­celing plans that don’t com­ply with Obama­care.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion re­leased a host of fi­nal reg­u­la­tions that, among oth­er things, ease re­port­ing re­quire­ments for busi­nesses and al­low in­surers to keep selling in­di­vidu­al policies that don’t meet the law’s re­quire­ments. Those plans, which the White House first un­canceled in Novem­ber, can now last un­til 2016 or, in some cases, 2017.

Amid an up­roar from con­gres­sion­al Demo­crats, Pres­id­ent Obama first an­nounced in Novem­ber that he would let states and in­surers de­cide wheth­er they wanted to un­cancel plans that don’t cov­er everything the Af­ford­able Care Act re­quires. But that one-year trans­ition set up an­oth­er round of can­cel­la­tion no­tices for this Oc­to­ber — just be­fore the midterm elec­tions.

Un­der the ad­di­tion­al ex­ten­sion an­nounced Wed­nes­day, those can­cel­la­tion no­tices will come in Oc­to­ber 2016, al­though plans that of­fer early re­new­als could be ex­ten­ded in­to 2017. The ad­min­is­tra­tion doesn’t ex­pect many people to be af­fected at that point.

Ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fii­als denied any polit­ic­al mo­tiv­a­tion for the latest delay, though press ma­ter­i­als about the changes spe­cific­ally name-checked Demo­crat­ic sen­at­ors who are up for reelec­tion this year and have pushed for Obama­care changes — in­clud­ing Mary Landrieu, Jeanne Shaheen, Mark Ud­all, and Mark Warner.

Seni­or ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials es­tim­ate that about 1.5 mil­lion people are cur­rently covered by plans that would have oth­er­wise been can­celed. That num­ber will likely shrink even more by the time the latest ex­ten­sion ends, as people get em­ploy­er-based in­sur­ance, be­come eli­gible for Medi­care, or simply choose to buy a dif­fer­ent policy, po­ten­tially with help from Obama­care’s new tax sub­sidies. So of­fi­cials don’t ex­pect to see a big, polit­ic­ally dam­aging wave of can­cel­la­tion no­tices in 2016.

Un­canceling pre-Obama­care plans has a small but neg­at­ive im­pact on the law’s in­sur­ance ex­changes, the new mar­ket­places where in­di­vidu­als who buy in­sur­ance on their own can shop for cov­er­age.

The people most likely to hang on to a plan that doesn’t meet all ACA re­quire­ments, rather than switch­ing to an Obama­care-com­pli­ant policy, are typ­ic­ally healthy and reas­on­ably af­flu­ent. Al­low­ing those con­sumers to stay out of the ex­changes car­ries some risk of high­er premi­ums next year if those in­side the new mar­ket­places are sick­er than ex­pec­ted.

The health care law in­cludes a built-in safety mech­an­ism for that scen­ario, but the White House also an­nounced new con­straints on that pro­gram Wed­nes­day.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion said it won’t al­low the gov­ern­ment to lose money on the law’s risk cor­ridors — a pro­gram Re­pub­lic­ans have cri­ti­cized as a “bail­out for in­sur­ance com­pan­ies.”

In the risk-cor­ridors pro­gram, in­surers with a bet­ter-than-ex­pec­ted risk pool pay in­to a fund, and in­surers with a worse-than-ex­pec­ted ex­per­i­ence can draw down from that fund. The­or­et­ic­ally, if every­one’s ex­per­i­ence is worse than ex­pec­ted, the fund wouldn’t have enough money and the gov­ern­ment would pick up the dif­fer­ence. But the ad­min­is­tra­tion said it wouldn’t al­low that to hap­pen — the money that goes out will match the money that comes in, of­fi­cials said.

The new rules also form­al­ize a delay in next year’s open-en­roll­ment win­dow and ex­tend that win­dow by a month. En­roll­ment will be­gin Nov. 15 and run through Feb. 15. The delays push the be­gin­ning of the en­roll­ment win­dow — when people will get a look at their premi­ums — past the Novem­ber midterms, and the ex­ten­ded win­dow gives the ad­min­is­tra­tion more time to try to bring in more people.

The open-en­roll­ment delay also gives in­surers more time to fig­ure out their rates. Without it, they would have had to set their 2015 premi­ums quickly after the end of the cur­rent en­roll­ment win­dow, mean­ing they might not have had a full ac­count­ing of how many young, healthy people signed up at the last minute.

What We're Following See More »
BACKING OUT ON BERNIE
Trump Won’t Debate Sanders After All
1 days ago
THE LATEST

Trump, in a statement: “Based on the fact that the Democratic nominating process is totally rigged and Crooked Hillary Clinton and Deborah Wasserman Schultz will not allow Bernie Sanders to win, and now that I am the presumptive Republican nominee, it seems inappropriate that I would debate the second place finisher. ... I will wait to debate the first place finisher in the Democratic Party, probably Crooked Hillary Clinton, or whoever it may be.”

AKNOWLEDGING THE INEVITABLE
UAW: Time to Unite Behind Hillary
2 days ago
THE DETAILS

"It's about time for unity," said UAW President Dennis Williams. "We're endorsing Hillary Clinton. She's gotten 3 million more votes than Bernie, a million more votes than Donald Trump. She's our nominee." He called Sanders "a great friend of the UAW" while saying Trump "does not support the economic security of UAW families." Some 28 percent of UAW members indicated their support for Trump in an internal survey.

Source:
AP KEEPING COUNT
Trump Clinches Enough Delegates for the Nomination
2 days ago
THE LATEST

"Donald Trump on Thursday reached the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president, completing an unlikely rise that has upended the political landscape and sets the stage for a bitter fall campaign. Trump was put over the top in the Associated Press delegate count by a small number of the party's unbound delegates who told the AP they would support him at the convention."

Source:
TRUMP FLOATED IDEA ON JIMMY KIMMEL’S SHOW
Trump/Sanders Debate Before California Primary?
2 days ago
THE LATEST
CAMPAIGNS INJECTED NEW AD MONEY
California: It’s Not Over Yet
2 days ago
THE LATEST

"Clinton and Bernie Sanders "are now devoting additional money to television advertising. A day after Sanders announced a new ad buy of less than $2 million in the state, Clinton announced her own television campaign. Ads featuring actor Morgan Freeman as well as labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta will air beginning on Fridayin Fresno, Sacramento, and Los Angeles media markets. Some ads will also target Latino voters and Asian American voters. The total value of the buy is about six figures according to the Clinton campaign." Meanwhile, a new poll shows Sanders within the margin of error, trailing Clinton 44%-46%.

Source:
×