Yesterday (Wednesday), the Obama administration announced a new Obamacare delay as a political move to protect vulnerable Democrats during midterm elections.
Insurers are now permitted to keep offering health insurance plans that don't meet the coverage requirements mandated by Obamacare. The extension will presently last for two years.
The move saves Democrats from fallout caused by the rush of cancellation notices that would have been issued to insureds in the fall of 2014 – in the middle of midterm election season.
"I don't see how they could have a bunch of these announcements going out in September," one consultant in the health insurance industry said to The Hill. "Not when they're trying to defend the Senate and keep their losses at a minimum in the House. This is not something to have out there right before the election."
At the outset of proposing his landmark Affordable Healthcare Act, U.S. President Barack Obama promised Americans that they could keep their insurance if they liked it in his memorable, oft-repeated talking point, "[If] they liked their health plan they could keep it. Period."
But as of December 2013, at least 4.7 million Americans had already received cancellation notices, according to The Associated Press. That number did not include policy cancellations in the small-business insurance market.
Then, administration officials claimed that the president knew about the forced cancellations for years, but neither told the whole truth to the American public, nor made a move to fix or prevent the issue.
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Yesterday, senior White House officials, speaking on the condition that they not be quoted in the press according to NBC News, denied the extension was being done to avoid an outcry right as certain Democrats were up for challenging midterms.
"These policies implement the health care law in a common-sense way by continuing to smooth the transition for consumers and stakeholders and fixing problems wherever the law provides flexibility," U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement along with the delay announcement. "This comprehensive guidance will help ensure that consumers, employers and insurers have the information they need to plan for next year and make it easier for families to make decisions to access quality, affordable coverage."
Yet, White House officials said the new Obamacare delay was developed in "close consultation" with 13 Democrats – and those 13 are the very elected officials that will be facing tough midterms, including Rep. Ron Barber, D-AZ, and Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-LA.
This is the second instance in the last few months in which President Obama has delayed enforcing the coverage requirements. In November 2013, he extended the policies on the concession that his administration had botched the Obamacare website rollout.
- The Hill:
New O-Care Delay to Help Midterm Dems
- The Associated Press:
Policy Notifications and Current Status, by State
- NBC News:
Feds Offer Two-Year Obamacare Delay for Some