The Obama administration announced late Wednesday that enrollment deadline for the Affordable Care Act will be delayed six weeks until Feb. 15.
That means, according to The Hill, “ObamaCare requires people to have health insurance by March 31, 2014. To guarantee the coverage, people must begin the process of applying for insurance no later than Feb. 15.”
Forbes reported this clarification according to tax expert Jackson Hewitt, “the administration said that Americans needed to buy health insurance by Feb. 15 in order to avoid the individual mandate’s fine against those who go without coverage. The open enrollment period in 2014, however, during which you can buy coverage and still gain access to Obamacare’s provisions regarding pre-existing conditions, ends March 31.”
Sign-up has been delayed due to the website technical problems, but the individual mandate timeline remains the same.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest explained it this way in a tweet, “Individual mandate timing hasn’t changed. [The] deadline for having insurance is 3/31. Was true this [morning]. Is true tonight.”
According to a report in US News, Republican critics, including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), want the individual mandate penalty to be delayed for six months after the Government Accountability Office gives an all-clear thumbs-up to signify the website is fixed and free of bugs, but that idea hasn't caught any traction.
Meanwhile, the president has lined up a “tech surge” to scrub the HealthCare.gov website and correct code glitches that have plagued the rollout that started Oct. 1.
On Monday, President Obama addressed the nation to say he was committed to getting the problems with the website fixed and asked people to recognize that it was “more than just a website,” because it is virtually an insurance shopping exchange to compare rates and policies. He said there were "no excuses" for the errors, but insisted the product, prices and coverage are "good."
Obama stressed there are additional ways to register for health care plans, including in person at local state offices, downloadable applications that can be completed at home and mailed in or by phone at 1-800-318-2596. He said the call center can respond in 150 languages and its open 24/7.
Congress will once again be addressing budget issues that could result in another government shutdown in early 2014 near the health care deadline, so the political posturing is already well underway.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), undaunted by contemptuous criticism from moderate Republicans has made it clear he won't hesitate to use Obamacare in another attempt to extort demands from the administration during the next round of shutdown and debt ceiling talks.
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Jean Williams, environmental and political journalist; PrairieDogPress writer; Artistic Director, Keystone Prairie Dogs.***PrairieDogPress is the media channel for keystone-prairie-dogs.com, which is a fundraising website to support environmental groups for extraordinary efforts to protect Great Plains habitat and prairie dogs in the wild. PDP uses humorous images, social commentary and serious-minded political reports to challenge government on numerous levels, including accountability to the people, the protection of threatened species, the environment and Earth’s natural resources.