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Restive Democrats Seek Delay in Health Care Individual Mandate; Senators Seek Enrollment Data

With website glitches continuing to make it difficult for consumers to sign up for health insurance through, a growing tide of Democrats, both in the House and Senate, are calling for delays in penalties for failure to adhere to the individual mandate provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) (P.L. 111-148). In a letter sent to President Obama on October 22, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., urged the White House to extend the open enrollment period past March 31, 2014, in order to give Americans more time to obtain coverage.

In her letter, Shaheen suggested extending open enrollment to “provide greater flexibility for the American people seeking to access health insurance.” Shaheen also asked the White House to clarify how the “individual responsibility penalty will be administered and enforced” in light of the website’s difficulties.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., appearing on Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor” on October 23, said he plans to write legislation, co-sponsored by Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., to delay for a year the individual mandate’s enforcement mechanism, which involves a $95 penalty for those who fail to enroll in a health insurance program by the March 31 deadline.

Many House Democrats are also questioning the fairness of maintaining the current deadline in light of the delays caused by the health care website. “I think we need to watch that and to monitor that and see if, really, people are going to be prevented from enrolling in time. And if so, they shouldn’t be penalized,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports.”

During an October 24 White House briefing, spokesman Jay Carney dismissed erroneous reporting that the Obama administration had decided to extend the deadline, shifting it from February 15 to March 31. Carney told reporters, “The individual mandate timing has not changed. The deadline for signing up for insurance was and is March 31.”

Senators Seek Enrollment Data

Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, and Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, sent a letter to four key health insurance companies participating in the president’s health care program seeking enrollment data in the wake of news reports of technical problems inhibiting accurate, successful enrollment. “As we learned from a House hearing today, insurance companies are getting inaccurate and unreliable information about those trying to sign up for insurance through,” said Hatch. “Since the Obama administration won’t say how many people have enrolled, we have no choice but to get this information from the insurance companies themselves. And, if the data the insurance companies are receiving is corrupt then we need to find out what needs to be done to fix this serious problem.”

By Jeff Carlson and Chantal Mahler, CCH News Staff

Industry News

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January 8, 2016


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