“WHAT the hell is this, a joke?”
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner asked the question Wednesday after the Obama administration announced that its approaching Monday deadline to sign up for insurance coverage this year would be pushed back to mid-April.
March 31 was the date the administration had been trying to drive home to consumers as the deadline neared, using a multi-million dollar marketing campaign that featured celebrities such as LeBron James. These ads are aimed at younger, healthier Americans whose enrollment is critical if the administration is to come close to meeting Obamacare’s cost projections.
March 31 is the date that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius promised (as recently as March 12) would remain unchanged. White House spokesman Jay Carney did the same during a briefing last week. Then, on Tuesday night, the administration changed course — yet again.
A person can get dizzy trying to track the many delays and tweaks that have occurred since Obamacare became the law of the land in 2010. As The Wall Street Journal has noted a number of times, the law is what President Barack Obama says it is.
The folks at Politico.com provided a handy listing of some of the most prominent delays to the health care law. Among them:
•November 2012: HHS gives states an extra month to decide whether to create their own health insurance exchanges (34 states, including Oklahoma, chose not to).
•July 2013: The administration delays the employer mandate, which makes businesses subject to fines if they employ more than 50 workers and don’t offer health coverage.
•November: The enrollment season for 2015 is pushed back by a month.
•Mid-December: Customers on healthcare.gov are given nearly two more weeks to sign up for coverage effective Jan. 1.
•Late December: The enrollment deadline is again extended. Customers are notified they can get help finishing their Jan. 1 applications if they were in line on Dec. 24.
•Mid-January 2014: High-risk insurance pools, for those with serious pre-existing conditions, were supposed to close Jan. 1 but are extended for the second time.
•February: Another delay to the employer mandate. In this instance, businesses with 50 to 100 workers are given until 2016 to offer coverage. The mandate will be phased in for employers with more than 100 workers.
•Mid-March: A third extension is provided for high-risk pools.
This newest deadline extension is for those who cite special circumstances as the reason they couldn’t get signed up by March 31. And this time, the administration is using the honor system. So people who simply say they couldn’t get enrolled, for whatever reason, will be taken at their word and given extra time.
“Another deadline made meaningless,” Boehner said. “If he (Obama) hasn’t put enough loopholes in the law already, the administration is now resorting to an honor system to enforce it.”
A joke? Nah, it’s just more of the same where Obamacare is concerned.