On Wednesday, the administration announced that anyone who claims to have begun the process of seeking coverage on the exchange by the end of the month may now apply for an extension of the enrollment period. “Under the new rules, people will be able to qualify for an extension by checking a blue box on HealthCare.gov to indicate that they tried to enroll before the deadline,” the Washington Post reported. “This method will rely on an honor system; the government will not try to determine whether the person is telling the truth.”
The administration argues that the extension is necessary because it is expecting a “surge” of people to sign up in the last few days of the enrollment period, which “could leave some people unable to get through the system,” said the paper.
“We are ... making sure that we will be ready to help consumers who may be in line by the deadline to complete enrollment — either online or over the phone,” Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services spokeswoman Julie Bataille told reporters.
In the words of Politico, “The Obama administration is giving anyone ‘in line’ for health coverage extra time to get it. But there isn’t really a ‘line’ and nobody’s checking who’s on it.” In fact, said the website, Bataille “declined to describe any scenario in which someone seeking to complete coverage after March 31 would be denied or told they weren’t ‘in line’ for coverage.”
Beyond the fact that the extension is being offered to anyone who requests it, the administration isn’t saying much about it. One official told the Post that “an exact time frame for this extension has not been set, and it will depend in part on how many people request it. Nor have officials decided precisely how long people will have to select a health plan after they get the extra time.” Officials on a Wednesday conference call with reporters were similarly closed-mouthed about the details, according to the Daily Caller.
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