The Obama administration pushed back another Obamacare deadline Friday, giving consumers an extra week to sign up for coverage that begins on Jan. 1.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said Friday that the sign-up date for coverage to begin Jan. 1 will be moved from Dec. 15 to Dec. 23. The final deadline to sign up isn’t until March.
Some stakeholders have speculated that CMS might delay the March 31 enrollment cutoff, giving consumers more time to sign up because the problems with HealthCare.gov effectively shaved off one month from the enrollment window. CMS Communications Director Julie Bataille said CMS is not considering that option “at this time.”
Extending the Dec. 15 deadline to Dec. 23 will squeeze insurance companies, who are still grappling with bad information coming from the back end of HealthCare.gov.
“It makes it more challenging to process enrollments in time for coverage to begin on Jan. 1. Ultimately it will depend on how many people enroll in those last few days,” said Robert Zirkelbach, a spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plans.
The change was made “in consultation with” the insurance industry, Bataille said.
The ongoing problems with HealthCare.gov have prevented many from enrolling in coverage, and the short time frame before the original Dec. 15 deadline raised concerns about people having enough time to get on the site and successfully find a plan. The extension to Dec. 23 could indicate a lack of confidence that the website will be fully functional by the end of November.
The administration has set the end of November as the goal to have the federal online exchange working smoothly for the “vast majority of users,” which was later clarified to mean 80 percent of consumers. Yet there have been doubts recently as to whether that deadline will be met.
Jeff Zients, the former White House budget director who is coordinating the HealthCare.gov repair effort, told reporters that CMS is “on track” to meet its goals for the end of November. By the end of the month, the site will be able to handle 50,000 users at once — the goal it was supposed to meet when it launched, Zients said.
When more than 50,000 people try to use the site at once, and the site can’t handle it, users will be able to request an email telling them when it’s OK to try again, Zients said.
What We're Following See More »
"While Democrats nationwide have put the focus on President Trump, the Sanders wing of the party has engaged in an intramural fight to remake the party in a more populist, liberal mold." From Washington state to California to Florida, Sanders loyalists are making good on their promise to remake the party from the ground up. And just last week, a "group of former Sanders campaign aides launched a super PAC with the explicit goal of mounting primary challenges to Democratic incumbents."
Congress will need to vote on Donald Trump's pick of Lt. General H.R. McMaster to be his next national security adviser, but not for the reason you think. The position of NSA doesn't require Senate approval, but since McMaster currently holds a three-star military position, Congress will need to vote to allow him to keep his position instead of forcing him to drop one star and become a Major General, which could potentially affect his pension.
"The Senate Intelligence Committee is seeking to ensure that records related to Russia’s alleged intervention in the 2016 U.S. elections are preserved as it begins investigating that country’s ties to the Trump team. The panel sent more than a dozen letters to 'organizations, agencies and officials' on Friday, asking them to preserve materials related to the congressional investigation, according to a Senate aide, who was not authorized to comment publicly. The Senate Intelligence Committee is spearheading the most comprehensive probe on Capitol Hill of Russia’s alleged activities in the elections."
Memos issued by the Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday night "implemented sweeping changes to the way immigration policy is enforced, making clear that millions of people living illegally in the U.S. are now subject to deportation and pushing authorities to fast-track the removal of many of them. ... The policy calls for enlisting local authorities to enforce immigration law, jailing more people while they wait for their hearings and trying to send border crossers back to Mexico to await proceedings, even if they aren’t Mexican."