People who started applying for health insurance under the Obamacare law but weren’t able to finish before the March 31 enrollment deadline will get extra time, the Obama administration announced late Tuesday, the latest tweak to the rules that added to a perception of disarray that has dogged the health care overhaul from its early days.
“The administration has now handed out so many waivers, special favors and exemptions to help Democrats out politically … it’s basically become the legal equivalent of Swiss cheese,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said.
The timing of the announcement raised concerns about the potential for another round of technology problems such as
the ones that paralyzed healthcare.gov after its Oct. 1 launch.
Officials say the federal website that serves 36 states is holding up well under the added demand, with more than 1.2 million visits on Tuesday. But independent testing by Detroit-based Compuware has found that the site runs slowly when compared to other health insurance industry websites.
The White House is scrambling to meet a goal of 6 million signed up, down from an initial 7 million goal. They said the grace period will be available to people on the honor system, meaning applicants will have to attest that special circumstances or complex cases prevented them from finishing by March 31.
It’s unclear how long the extension will last. Some have urged the administration to allow until April 15, the tax filing deadline. People who are due refunds may be willing to put some of that money toward health care premiums.
The administration’s decision affects the 36 states where the federal government is taking the lead on sign-ups. But the 14 states running their own websites, such as New York, are likely to follow.