Here we go: HHS official hints at extending ObamaCare enrollment period as Joe Manchin drafts bill to delay mandate; Update: WH wants six-week extension?

posted at 6:01 pm on October 23, 2013 by Allahpundit

The ice is starting to crack. First, Manchin:

Republican Marco Rubio of Florida is working on legislation to delay the mandate indefinitely — which Manchin’s office says the senator does not support — and it’s entirely possible the GOP could push for a delay provision to be included as an amendment vote to the next moving vehicle, using Manchin’s effort as leverage inside the Dome and as political fodder outside it, from entities such as the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

It’s not yet clear what the bill would look like. Manchin’s office only would confirm that it’s being discussed and the senator is looking for co-sponsors.

The reason it’s not clear what the bill would look like is because Manchin doesn’t care what it looks like. He knows it won’t pass; Democrats can’t risk wreaking havoc on insurers by suddenly exempting the young and healthy from buying insurance when sick people are coming onto the rolls. He’s doing this not because he believes delay is good policy (I think) but because a splashy proposal to put some distance between him and Obama might impress voters back home. For Manchin, at least, it’s time to head for the lifeboats on ObamaCare. And he’s not the only Democrat who’s inching his way towards that side of the ship:

Dem Rep. Rick Nolan told reporters after a White House briefing this morning that what they told him about Healthcare.gov “was not the least bit reassuring.” He and fellow House Dem Sean Maloney are now calling for heads to roll over the website. Florida Sen. Bill Nelson said later this afternoon that he thinks someone should be canned too.

Meanwhile, at HHS:

The administration declined to say whether people who purchase health coverage late in the enrollment period—say, on March 31—would be exempt from a penalty, even if their policy doesn’t kick in until April or May. Nor would the department give a specific date by which people would need to buy coverage to escape a fine. The HHS official, however, indicated that the administration may extend the deadline beyond Feb. 15: “We are exploring options currently and will issue guidance at a later date.”…

There is another sign that the penalty policy may be in flux: While HHS referred MarketWatch’s previous inquiries about the fine, and the deadline to avoid it, to the Treasury, a spokesperson there referred a request Wednesday back to HHS, suggesting that the health officials are now the ones writing new rules for the law.

What’s the difference between extending the enrollment period and delaying the mandate? Well, for one thing, after three years of ferocious Republican attacks (replete with a landmark Supreme Court suit) on the mandate, saying that they’re merely extending the enrollment period would let the White House save a bit of extra face in confirming that the GOP was right to think O-Care wasn’t ready for primetime. Beyond that, though, if you leave the February 15th mandate deadline in effect while extending the period of enrollment from March 31st into, say, July, you run into two big problems. One: If you’ve already paid the penalty in mid-February, why would you then go ahead and buy insurance before July? You’ve already fulfilled your legal obligation to Uncle Sam. Two: The only reason you might buy insurance after you’ve already paid the penalty is because you’ve fallen ill or gotten in an accident and now desperately need insurance — and thanks to ObamaCare’s new rules about preexisting conditions, insurers wouldn’t be able to turn you down. That’s another variation of the death spiral, where only the sick and injured bother to enroll while everyone else stays out of the pool. If you want to extend the enrollment period to encourage the healthy to sign up, you might as well delay the mandate entirely by pushing back the penalty deadline too. But if you do that, you’re also in death-spiral territory because you’re relaxing the incentive on the young and healthy to enroll ASAP. There’s no obvious way out of this maze except fixing the site quickly — or delaying the whole law, of course. Tick tock.

Exit question: Didn’t House Republicans recently offer to end the shutdown in exchange for delaying the individual mandate? Does O want a second shot at that offer?

Update: That was fast:

I think what that means is that they’re sticking with March 31st as the official deadline — emphasis on “official.” Right now, in order to avoid the mandate penalty, you need to sign up by February 15th or so to make sure that your enrollment’s processed by 3/31. Sounds like the White House wants to tweak the reporting requirements somehow so that you really can sign up as late as the last day of March without suffering any penalty. Either that or they’re going to push the official deadline back six weeks, from March 31 to mid-May. Just one problem in that case, though: It would be illegal.


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Where are all the trolls?

:-)

LASue on October 23, 2013 at 7:47 PM

They’ve already started filling out 2014 ballots.

besser tot als rot on October 23, 2013 at 7:51 PM

Where are all the trolls?

:-)

LASue on October 23, 2013 at 7:47 PM

Waiting for some mexican music to start playing in
the Casa Blanca

burrata on October 23, 2013 at 7:52 PM

Last week the people who wanted to delay Obamacare were called legislative arsonists and terrorists who were holding the country hostage. This week they’re called Democrats.

txhsmom on October 23, 2013 at 7:19 PM

perfectly crafted…tips hat…

going2mars on October 23, 2013 at 7:52 PM

Presidents can delay taxes unilaterally now?

forest on October 23, 2013 at 7:53 PM

Just one problem in that case, though: It would be illegal.

Illegal, Ill-schmiegel…It’s good to be King!

nicefly on October 23, 2013 at 7:53 PM

A 1-year “delay”, (though technically repeal) of the entire bill, including all mandates and regulations for individuals, employers, insurers, and providers, while the White House tries to get its act together, followed by an up-or-down vote on the entirety of Obamacare, in September 2014.

RINO in Name Only on October 23, 2013 at 7:50 PM

Then what? Millions of people have already been told their private insurance is gone. Millions of people have already lost their employer based insurance. The insurance companies have already scrapped their old insurance plans. The insurance companies have based their new insurance plans on underwriting that assumes mandated enrollment. Then, they have uncertainty about what the heck they should do until at least September 2014. After that, they need to figure out how they can underwrite their new insurance programs – will take months. So we roll in to 2015 with millions of people without insurance for over a year and the insurance companies probably all out of business. Hello, single payer.

besser tot als rot on October 23, 2013 at 7:56 PM

Last week the people who wanted to delay Obamacare were called legislative arsonists and terrorists who were holding the country hostage. This week they’re called Democrats.

txhsmom on October 23, 2013 at 7:19 PM

Nice. That will hit twitter later… :)
And I would add that last weeks “terrorists” were attempting to delay the mandate legally. This week’s players? Not so much.

JusDreamin on October 23, 2013 at 7:58 PM

Chart of the Day: Obamacare Exchange Has More Lines of Code Than Apple’s OSX, Windows XP, Facebook, Linux, And Google Chrome…COMBINED!

Resist We Much on October 23, 2013 at 7:57 PM

And works about as well if you had all of those programs running on the same computer at the same time.

besser tot als rot on October 23, 2013 at 8:00 PM

Where are all the trolls?

:-)

LASue on October 23, 2013 at 7:47 PM

On Hold..

1-800-318-2596

Electrongod on October 23, 2013 at 8:00 PM

as Wednesday’s CBS This Morning revealed about the federal health care website. Jan Crawford underlined how “in some cases, people could end up paying nearly double what they see on the website”.

Read more: http://newsbusters.org/#ixzz2iaoxJtH8

ES trolls. Wherever the f*ck you are.

CWchangedhisNicagain on October 23, 2013 at 8:01 PM

On Hold..

1-800-318-2596

Electrongod on October 23, 2013 at 8:00 PM

Are you sure it’s not the 1-900 cousin that promises a reacharound?

Steve Eggleston on October 23, 2013 at 8:01 PM

Resist We Much on October 23, 2013 at 7:57 PM

You forgot Little Orphan Annie’s decoder ring.

chewmeister on October 23, 2013 at 8:02 PM

Chart of the Day: Obamacare Exchange Has More Lines of Code Than Apple’s OSX, Windows XP, Facebook, Linux, And Google Chrome…COMBINED!

Resist We Much on October 23, 2013 at 7:57 PM

Most of those lines are red lines in the sand…

Electrongod on October 23, 2013 at 8:02 PM

And Dear Leader will announce his immigration push tommorrow from the White House….LOL. I am not kidding!

d1carter on October 23, 2013 at 8:03 PM

Either that or they’re going to push the official deadline back six weeks, from March 31 to mid-May. Just one problem in that case, though: It would be illegal.

It was illegal for them to extend the employer mandate deadline. The law didn’t even slow them down.

It was illegal for them to provide insurance subsidies to people enrolling through the federal exchanges, too.

Laws are for little people.

Socratease on October 23, 2013 at 8:04 PM

CRAWFORD: Industry analysts, like Jonathan Wu, point out the website lumps people only into two broad categories: 49 or under, and 50 or older. Prices for everyone in the 49 or under group are based on what a 27-year-old would pay. In the 50 or older group, prices are based on what a 50-year-old would pay.

We ran the numbers for a 48-year-old in Charlotte, North Carolina ineligible for subsidies. According to HealthCare.gov, she would pay $231 a month. But the actual plan on BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina’s website costs $360 – more than a 50 percent increase. The difference: BlueCross BlueShield requests your birthday before providing more accurate estimates.

The numbers for older Americans are even more striking. A 62-year-old in Charlotte, looking for the same basic plan, would get a price estimate on the government website of $394. The actual price is $634.

Read more: http://newsbusters.org/blogs/matthew-balan/2013/10/23/cbs-uncovers-serious-incredibly-misleading-obamacare-website-price-qu#ixzz2iapmWr5b

Liberals are so stupid.

CWchangedhisNicagain on October 23, 2013 at 8:05 PM

LOL…I wonder what the Las Vegas odds for Obamacare still not being implemented by the 2016 elections…LOL!

Might be worth it to risk a few $ at the rate things are going if the odds are right.

William Eaton on October 23, 2013 at 8:07 PM

LOL…I wonder what the Las Vegas odds for Obamacare still not being implemented by the 2016 elections…LOL!

Might be worth it to risk a few $ at the rate things are going if the odds are right.

William Eaton on October 23, 2013 at 8:07 PM

There’s a steaming pile of Obama smoldering beneath the rise of a new economy.

Twitter that.

Key West Reader on October 23, 2013 at 8:09 PM

Actually…

This is the perfect opportunity for the GOP to flip the past week on its head if they capitalize on this right (not that they will) -

All they have to do is get out and media blitz that this was all they asked for last week and Obama shut down the government over it and now flip-flops and says its ok.

That should segue into a smear campaign about how Obama cares nothing about the people and will happily sell out their medical care AND their government for political points.

Follow that up with government, for this very reason, should not have this much control over your rights to health care and demand ObamaCare be changed to let insurance companies offer nationwide plans and let the insurance companies make their own exchanges!

Check and mate.

(If the GOP still had gravitas… that is…)

Skywise on October 23, 2013 at 8:11 PM

i dont think they make enough popcorn
for all the enjoyment and comedy
we are all going to get out of this deal..
its like a stumble a day…
and this is only the beginning..
wait till they ‘treat’ us all..
roll out
sticker shock
moving signup max date
ppl actually paying the tab
IRS inforcement
millions taken off current plans
free care for illegals??..
doctor appointments/visits
co/gov/pay
meds??…
deductable
on and on…an on…
i see a million one liners comming

going2mars on October 23, 2013 at 8:13 PM

Are you sure it’s not the 1-900 cousin that promises a reacharound?

Steve Eggleston on October 23, 2013 at 8:01 PM

Lean Forward!

. . . little more . . .

Axe on October 23, 2013 at 8:17 PM

Either that or they’re going to push the official deadline back six weeks, from March 31 to mid-May. Just one problem in that case, though: It would be illegal.

So what???? Its not like the first time (or the second or the third time) this president has granted a waiver when he did not have the authority to do so.

paulsur on October 23, 2013 at 8:24 PM

I wonder how many ways the GOP can screw this up?

faraway on October 23, 2013 at 8:24 PM

don’t seem to be hearing much about repeal anymore. not in any sense. if they GOP allows a vote on a delay they need to insist on getting something for it. don’t save the dems w/o getting paid.

chasdal on October 23, 2013 at 8:25 PM

‘NBC is wrong again. Individual mandate timing hasnt changed. Deadline for having insurance is March 31. Was true this am. Is true tonight.’

— Josh Earnest (@jearnest44) October 23, 2013

Resist We Much on October 23, 2013 at 8:34 PM

In exchange, the House should hold hearings to demand answers on what’s happening with the website.

faraway on October 23, 2013 at 8:34 PM

500,000 people applied = NOBODY SIGNED UP.

Wake up the GOP. Tell them that ObamaCare is dead.

faraway on October 23, 2013 at 8:36 PM

House investigation committee needs to haul in the insurance company execs and grill them on how they intend to maintain their exchange policies, and at what rates, now that the delays, “extensions,” and failure to enroll the necessary numbers or demographic to make it all “work” have just exploded their actuarial assumptions for those policies. Two reasons:

1) gives the execs a chance to point public fingers at the administration (and they will, they can see the worm turning as well as anyone); and
2) so humiliate them that they think 2-3 times before ever getting into bed with another administration on a “sure thing” crony-capitalist legislative monstrosity again.

de rigueur on October 23, 2013 at 8:37 PM

6 more weeks to not do something I wouldn’t do with a 9mm lugar pointed at my head.

What a relief.

How about you extend it past that second date chiseled in granite?

That’s when you can sign me up.

wolly4321 on October 23, 2013 at 8:39 PM

NBC is wrong again. Individual mandate timing hasnt changed. Deadline for having insurance is March 31. Was true this am. Is true tonight.’

— Josh Earnest (@jearnest44) October 23, 2013

Resist We Much on October 23, 2013 at 8:34 PM

Somebody needs to tell that Goron that March 31 is merely the deadline to avoid the full 12-month ta…er…penalty. When the sun rose this morning, it meant the breakpoint between paying 4 months’ worth of said ta…er…penalty and 12 months’ worth of same. What Team SCOAMT is doing (illegally, I might add) is changing 3/31 to being the breakpoint between paying 0 months’ worth of said ta…er…penalty and 12 months’ worth of same.

Steve Eggleston on October 23, 2013 at 8:40 PM

Lean Forward!

. . . little more . . .

Axe on October 23, 2013 at 8:17 PM

Which reminds me, the real “brains” behind PMSDNC – Ben Dover.

Steve Eggleston on October 23, 2013 at 8:41 PM

” ITS THE LAW ”

Really?

Well, so is the GOT-DAMN CONSTITUTION you piece of $hit.

TX-96 on October 23, 2013 at 8:42 PM

Last week the people who wanted to delay Obamacare were called legislative arsonists and terrorists who were holding the country hostage. This week they’re called Democrats.

txhsmom on October 23, 2013 at 7:19 PM

Hope you don’t mind, had to put that on Twitter.

Barred on October 23, 2013 at 8:45 PM

GNED UP. Wake up the GOP. Tell them that ObamaCare is dead. faraway on October 23, 2013 at 8:36 PM

I’ll call mccain. Think he’ll listen? He’s shot down and likes the torture.

What do they call that Axe.. masochism? (i kid)

wolly4321 on October 23, 2013 at 8:48 PM

John Marshall Roberts has made hiss decision; now let him enforce it!”.

wolly4321 on October 23, 2013 at 9:06 PM

txhsmom on October 23, 2013 at 7:19 PM
Hope you don’t mind, had to put that on Twitter.
Barred on October 23, 2013 at 8:45 PM

Not at all. I don’t tweet anymore.

txhsmom on October 23, 2013 at 9:06 PM

Six weeks? Hahahahahahahahahahaha.

Talk of signup delay will make the position of insurers untenable, spooking financial markets.

Sell. Go to cash, ASAP.

SomeCallMeJohn on October 23, 2013 at 9:07 PM

Not at all. I don’t tweet anymore.

txhsmom on October 23, 2013 at 9:06 PM

Ex-tweeters of the world unite! :-)

Steve Eggleston on October 23, 2013 at 9:08 PM

Keep in mind the ins. company boss’s and owners had the RNC paid off before the vote on Obama Care.

It is a two party evil money cult.

They are running a “con”.

We are the “marks”.

Each of U.S. just one more tax payer ID number.

That is why both sides now lust for an amnesty and fast.

For more TAX ID Numbers to pay into the con.

40 or so in the House and 10 or less in the Senate and U.S. .

As of now that is the set up.

Only question is what will we marks do, as we have a 70 to 100 year History of what the elected ones will do.

Add more debt, spend more money, tax, and spin cycle the whole mess over and over.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on October 23, 2013 at 9:16 PM

This will of course extend Obama’s presidential term.

kcewa on October 23, 2013 at 9:18 PM

What do you want to bet that only a few hundred have signed up. If even that.

JellyToast on October 23, 2013 at 9:19 PM

ObamaCare is its own Death Panel…

Electrongod on October 23, 2013 at 9:21 PM

See the House conservatives plan

kcewa on October 23, 2013 at 9:21 PM

Looks like the plan is to bust the Hospitals and the Universities that own and operate them.

Once it gets to a do a “goverment” bail out time, them the Goverment will bail out the “broke” hospitals and Dr.’s pracitces and single payer days forever.

They did this same scam on the banks, cars and now the health care system.

It is a national coast to coast reservation they are building.

The American People are the New Apache.

Now they come for your stuff, your family, your home, your car, your food, your health care.

Old dirty goverment blankets for all.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on October 23, 2013 at 9:22 PM

Tomorrow the dems will be calling their proposed delay a “tweak” and “fine-tune” of the law; NOT to be confused with the evil overhaul those terrorist republicans wanted.

But I don’t think think even their faithful will be able to swallow that sh!t sandwich.

LASue on October 23, 2013 at 9:22 PM

Oh, and you get to vote for the Chiefs, but you do not get in on the counting of the votes, that is for the made members of the “Chief clans” who run the con to start with.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on October 23, 2013 at 9:26 PM

I won’t have health insurance on 01/01/14 even though I have been paying my own way for years. My policy doesn’t meet qualifications just like a lot of others. Still this Sh!t Storm is cracking me up.

kahall on October 23, 2013 at 9:32 PM

Just one problem in that case, though: It would be illegal.

Since when has that stopped King Barack? This is the same guy that lambasted Bush for overreach…astounding. And the media will remain silent as usual.

No delay, no extension, nothing. Let them live with the consequences of their incompetence. Unfortunately, because of the idiotic strategy of shutting down the government over a delay/defunding of ObamaCare, Republicans would have to give Obama a delay if he were to ask for one. Which of course would be, in keeping with Ed’s analogy, sending a lifeboat to help save those Dems sinking with the ship.

ncconservative on October 23, 2013 at 9:37 PM

Preznit Doofus please pull up on the stick. You are spiraling into the abyss. You aren’t on the precipice. You are past It.

preznit doofus do you read over?

SparkPlug on October 23, 2013 at 9:37 PM

The White House wants six weeks?

Good.

Sen. R’s can then demand a year or no deal and let the Dems wither on the vine as the outcry increases.

newtopia on October 23, 2013 at 9:44 PM

Thankfully this ObamaCare crisis has been averted by dodging a squirrel and running into a tree.

SparkPlug on October 23, 2013 at 9:46 PM

House investigation committee needs to haul in the insurance company execs and grill them on how they intend to maintain their exchange policies, and at what rates, now that the delays, “extensions,” and failure to enroll the necessary numbers or demographic to make it all “work” have just exploded their actuarial assumptions for those policies. Two reasons:

1) gives the execs a chance to point public fingers at the administration (and they will, they can see the worm turning as well as anyone); and
2) so humiliate them that they think 2-3 times before ever getting into bed with another administration on a “sure thing” crony-capitalist legislative monstrosity again.

de rigueur

THIS^^^^^^^

ugottabekiddingme on October 23, 2013 at 9:55 PM

Amid Healh Care Woes, President To Push For Immigration Reform In Speech On Thursday

…because adding 11 million people with no respect for the law or the citizens of this nation who will almost all be eligible for tax payer funded subsidies to Obamacare “… is the right thing to do.”

CBO estimates added cost to the tax payers of adding 11 million illegal aliens currently at large in this nation to Obamacare at $2Trillion over the next 10 years.

thatsafactjack on October 23, 2013 at 10:06 PM

Didn’t House Republicans recently offer to end the shutdown in exchange for delaying the individual mandate? Does O want a second shot at that offer?

“O” doesn’t have any intention of letting House Republicans be right on this issue. Never has, never will. He’ll let the whole thing be a big stinking barnacle on his presidency before he would concede that this whole program is a worthless mess and a stain on American law and Americans in general. Neither would Pelosi or Reid.

scalleywag on October 23, 2013 at 10:09 PM

what a s-h-i-t sandwich

Can.I.be.in.the.middle on October 23, 2013 at 10:14 PM

SparkPlug on October 23, 2013 at 9:37 PM

Remember when Obama accused Bush of ‘driving the car into the ditch’?

I think you’re right… Obama has the F-22 Raptor of State spinning straight into the abyss at full throttle.

thatsafactjack on October 23, 2013 at 10:14 PM

Even if Obama illegally and unilaterally delays the mandate, this puts the House in a much stronger position to zero out the funding for the rest of the fiscal eyear.

I’d rather the GOP hold their ground and refuse any delay. They offered it already and were crucified.

matthew8787 on October 23, 2013 at 10:17 PM

See the House conservatives plan

kcewa on October 23, 2013 at 9:21 PM

Now that’s a plan. Too bad it won’t make it out of the House.

Steve Eggleston on October 23, 2013 at 10:18 PM

what a s-h-i-t sandwich

Can.I.be.in.the.middle on October 23, 2013 at 10:14 PM

Isn’t that exactly what a ‘Lucky Pierre’ is?

slickwillie2001 on October 23, 2013 at 10:29 PM

Admission of failure. Beautiful.

thebrokenrattle on October 23, 2013 at 10:44 PM

No more than 6 week delay and then full steam ahead.

The smartest guy in the room who doesn’t negotiate with terrorists needs more runway……and Democrats would be very happy to provide it if only they can find a way to push this entire debacle past the next election cycle.

Democrats have not repudiated ObamaCare because they view the latest glitches not as endemic but rather something to be overcome by technocratic fixes. Nothing can’t be overcome with more money, more policy fixes or “investments”.On-going failure just means you need to do more and Utopia can still linger in the ether…just out of reach.

ObamaCare can provide a teachable moment, a high water mark for big government or we can allow the hydra to slink back, rest and reorganize before coming back more dangerous than before.

ObamaCare must go live as soon as possible with the full weight, force and zeal of the the administration and the left. To do otherwise is to offer a get out of card to Democrats who imposed ObamaCare along strict party line votes and now when they find it politically expedient seek to distance themselves from the consequence of their advocacy and votes.

R Square on October 23, 2013 at 11:40 PM

Last week the people who wanted to delay Obamacare were called legislative arsonists and terrorists who were holding the country hostage. This week they’re called Democrats.

txhsmom on October 23, 2013 at 7:19 PM

Comment of the Day™

Steve Eggleston on October 23, 2013 at 7:42 PM

Steve Eggleston:Agreed,

most brilliant (thought) comment, kudo’s txhsmom—————:0

canopfor on October 23, 2013 at 11:46 PM

Maybe there is a bit of hope in all of this…

The Libs wanted to destroy the Health Insurance businesses
and force all Americans into a “Single-Payer System.”
Thanks to CJ John Roberts, they thought they were going
full speed ahead.

Libs, after all, think that making a profit immoral.
Making a profit from healthcare is ESPECIALLY immoral!

Now that most Americans can see that the huge bureaucracy
of the federal government can’t even set up a proper website,
they can now see the huge train-wreck coming down the
tracks towards their personal healthcare.

shorebird on October 23, 2013 at 11:51 PM

More Democrats voice Obamacare concerns as website blame goes around

By David Morgan and Mark Felsenthal
WASHINGTON | Wed Oct 23, 2013 8:22pm EDT
****************************************

(Reuters) – The contractors for the government’s troubled healthcare website sought to deflect blame on Wednesday as more Democrats voiced concerns about the implementation of President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy.

Administration officials, in damage-control mode for nearly a week, held a closed-door briefing for Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives and a private session with insurance company executives, who said they would assist in efforts to fix the Healthcare.gov website.

Websites are the primary vehicle for consumers to shop for insurance through exchanges set up under the healthcare program.

With the rocky launch of the “Obamacare” insurance exchanges entering its fourth week, additional Democrats came forward, some urging the president to extend the open-enrollment period for buying health insurance through the program beyond the existing March 31 deadline.

One Democrat, Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, said he would join a Republican effort to delay the so-called “individual mandate,” that requires people to buy insurance or face a tax penalty.

Manchin, in a Fox News interview on the “The O’Reilly Factor,” called for a transition year with no fines. “Let’s work through the problems. We’ve got a lot of problems, they have been identified. I think everybody has recognized them. Let’s fix it. Let’s get together and fix things,” he said.

White House officials said on Wednesday that enrollment requirements were being changed so that consumers could sign up for health insurance right up to the March 31 deadline and avoid penalties. Some people previously needed to be signed around February 15 to meet the end of March deadline.

A White House official said that pushing back the sign-up requirement was not related to glitches with Healthcare.gov, but was simply an effort to eliminate confusion over the two deadlines.

The comments from the handful of Democrats posed a new potential hazard for the White House and gave Republicans a chance to portray their efforts to derail the healthcare program as bipartisan.

Democratic Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas, who faces a tough re-election race next year, said he agreed with fellow Democrat Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire that the open enrollment period to sign up for insurance should be extended beyond March 31, 2014.

Representative James Clyburn of South Carolina, the third-ranking House Democrat, criticized the website for forcing consumers to provide private information before deciding what kind of health insurance plan they want to buy.

“I’ve talked to too many people who tell me before they ever get around to figuring out what it is they want to buy, they’re having to answer questions that they don’t feel they should be answering,” Clyburn said.

CONTRACTOR TESTIMONY

Republicans said they would intensify their investigations into the launch of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, known as “Obamacare.”

“It is our job to hold them accountable, and when it comes to Obamacare clearly there is a lot to hold accountable,” House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner told reporters.

The Republican-led House Energy and Commerce Committee on Thursday will hear from the top contractors responsible for the program. They included website developer CGI Federal, a unit of Canada’s CGI Group Inc, which said in prepared testimony that the software from another contractor designed to allow users to create an account led to early bottlenecks.

But the other contractor, United Health Group unit Quality Software Services Inc (QSSI), said in prepared testimony that some of its problems stemmed from a late decision by the administration to require consumers to register for an account before browsing for insurance products.

“This may have driven higher simultaneous usage of the registration system that wouldn’t have occurred if consumers could ‘window shop’ anonymously,” said QSSI.

The company’s software is now keeping pace with demand. Andrew Slavitt, executive vice president with QSSI’s parent, said the software has had “error rates close to zero” since October 8.

Obama administration officials, including U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, met with the chief executives of 14 leading insurance companies, including Aetna Inc, WellPoint Inc and Humana Inc.

The executives agreed to form new technical teams with the administration to help fix the website, which provide online access to the marketplaces designed to be the main way for millions of uninsured Americans to research and buy health insurance plans under the law.

“We had a candid discussion on the challenges facing the exchange, and the plan that is being put in place to get the program on track,” Aetna Inc spokeswoman Cynthia Michener said.

The October 1 debut of the exchanges was marred by technical glitches that have kept many from signing on and making purchases. Those unable to sign up online can call a toll-free telephone number as an alternative.

The administration has so far declined to disclose the number of enrollments, either online or by telephone.

‘WORKING HARD TO FIX THE PROBLEMS’

A prolonged delay in getting Healthcare.gov to work could jeopardize White House efforts to sign up as many as 7 million people in 2014, the first full year the law takes effect. The administration this week began what it called a “tech surge,” bringing in experts led by the administration’s top economic aide Jeffrey Zients to analyze and fix the problems.

“I think what we learned is they’re working hard to fix the problems,” Representative Sander Levin of Michigan, senior Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, said after Wednesday’s briefing.

The U.S. Health and Human Services Department will begin regular news briefings on Thursday to provide updates on “the progress that’s being made and on the efforts that are being undertaken, both to address the technical problems and to make the whole experience for American consumers better,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

House Democrats said there was no discussion in the briefing about whether the problems should lead to a delay of the individual requirement that every American have insurance or pay a tax penalty. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated a delay would reduce enrollment significantly.

REPUBLICANS DEMAND DELAY

Republicans, who have fought the healthcare law as an unwarranted extension of the federal government, said the requirement should be delayed until the problems with the rollout are resolved.

“With so many unanswered questions and the problems arising around this rollout, it doesn’t make any sense to impose this one percent mandate tax on the American people,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor told reporters on Wednesday.

Republicans have repeatedly tried to derail or delay the healthcare law since taking control of the House in the 2010 elections. They demanded more answers on Wednesday about the scope of the problems.

Three committees in the Republican-controlled House have announced investigations of the law’s rollout, which Cantor described as “nothing short of a debacle.”
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http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/10/24/us-usa-healthcare-idUSBRE99M0VD20131024?feedType=RSS&feedName=topNews&utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter&dlvrit=992637

canopfor on October 24, 2013 at 12:07 AM

I am opposed to any further delay. Think of the poor people without coverage. Think of the children!

claudius on October 24, 2013 at 1:37 AM

Even the most optimistic of signup estimates prove that Americans are basically ignoring Obamacare. Even if the web-site worked flawlessly, people are not thinking about it. A delay will make no difference. People will not sign up in big numbers and they will get mad if the IRS wants to give them a penalty (that they won’t enforce).

It’s not low-information voters that are acting here, but low-interest Americans.

This is the shining achievement of Barack Hussein Obama: nothing. Ironically, this is the symbolic world of sweet-nothings that politicians live and breathe.

virgo on October 24, 2013 at 1:41 AM

Aiding terrorists, violating the Constitution, running guns to Mexican Drug Cartels and All Qaeda in Syria, having the IRS target his political enemies, having the NSA admittedly breaking the law thousands of times a year while spying on Americans…and Allies, hiring All Qaeda to protect a US Ambassador, adding $7 trillion in debt, the 1st US credit rating downgrade ever, more people on food stamps than ever before, millions of Americans losing jobs and insurance, & now THIS healthcare disaster ($632+ million to hire an incompetent firm to build a non-functional web site for a program that is destroying this nation….

Obamacare and this web site IS completely symbolic of Obama’s entire Presidency — it is a complete and utter disaster that is laying waste to this nation, hurting our people, and destroying the nation! He could not have done a better job destroying this nation if he had planned to do this all along, which I am not sure that he hasn’t!

easyt65 on October 24, 2013 at 1:44 AM

House investigation committee needs to haul in the insurance company execs and grill them on how they intend to maintain their exchange policies, and at what rates, now that the delays, “extensions,” and failure to enroll the necessary numbers or demographic to make it all “work” have just exploded their actuarial assumptions for those policies. Two reasons:

1) gives the execs a chance to point public fingers at the administration (and they will, they can see the worm turning as well as anyone); and
2) so humiliate them that they think 2-3 times before ever getting into bed with another administration on a “sure thing” crony-capitalist legislative monstrosity again.

de rigueur on October 23, 2013 at 8:37 PM

For that to really work, we need to uncover exactly WHO was involved in writing Obamacare and have THEM on the hotseat!

dominigan on October 24, 2013 at 5:18 AM

My take.

kingsjester on October 24, 2013 at 6:53 AM

I wonder how many ways the GOP can screw this up?

faraway on October 23, 2013 at 8:24 PM

They have a lot if imagination! They’ll end up taking the blame for all that’s wrong and paying for all the “free” care delivered in blue states.

Annar on October 24, 2013 at 6:59 AM

They have a lot if imagination! They’ll end up taking the blame for all that’s wrong and paying for all the “free” care delivered in blue statesvoters.

Annar on October 24, 2013 at 6:59 AM

fixed.

CWchangedhisNicagain on October 24, 2013 at 7:24 AM

6 wks? Just say “no!” We wont negotiate away a law of the land!

Don L on October 24, 2013 at 7:37 AM

Just one problem in that case, though: It would be illegal.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! ::breathe::

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Uh no. Like this White House has ever been constrained by the law.

Physics Geek on October 24, 2013 at 8:29 AM

Wasn’t there a senator who was recently reviled for demanding for a delay? I think he was a Republican.

Akzed on October 24, 2013 at 9:16 AM

I don’t see any way out of this. ObamaFail is doomed. There’s no way that millions of young Obamabots are actually going to spend their own money on this crap. HotAirian on October 23, 2013 at 6:23 PM

Why should they when they can stay on dad’s policy until 26?

Sort of a built-in disincentive, eh?

Akzed on October 24, 2013 at 9:21 AM

Presidents can delay taxes unilaterally now?

forest on October 23, 2013 at 7:53 PM

Why not? Apparently the Senate can create taxes now, according to Benedict Roberts.

Nutstuyu on October 24, 2013 at 9:30 AM

Stand with Ted all you want, Pryor, it’s not going to save your azz next year. Delaying this law/mess/train wreck was one of the CRs passed by the House last month. Where were all these toadies then? Failing all the pre-rollout testing was a huge Houston, we have a problem, and all of those in DC who can’t keep their mouths shut about national security matters didn’t speak up. Maybe oblamo should trot over to the State Dept and ask to press Killary’s reset button.

Kissmygrits on October 24, 2013 at 9:32 AM

Oh, and you get to vote for the Chiefs, but you do not get in on the counting of the votes, that is for the made members of the “Chief clans” who run the con to start with.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on October 23, 2013 at 9:26 PM

Do we still get a free Redskins jersey?

Nutstuyu on October 24, 2013 at 9:48 AM

I understand that neither Republicans nor Democrats in Washington care about the Constitution nor the laws of the united States – BUT – “There is no provision in the Constitution that authorizes the President to enact, to amend, or to repeal statutes” from the 1998 decision of SCOTUS in Clinton v. City of New York

Is it too much to expect that Congressional Republicans file suit and ask for expedited Supreme Court review of the waivers, delays, and changes made by the administration in this legislation.

pilsener on October 24, 2013 at 10:18 AM

No, no, and no again. Make it one year or no deal. Want to avoid another showdown and make the Dems look like idiots, tell them you will abstain from voting. Every single R should vote present and let the Dems own the 6 week extension. 6 weeks won’t solve anything and the Dems know it.

Let them know they will own another failure unless they do some serious work and delay 1 year and I bet you will find enough to over-ride a veto from the President.

We have the Dems in a barrel heading towards Niagara falls. Don’t bail them out. Let them crash and burn.

If you get the 1 year delay, spend as much time and money as possible highlighting the exactly what ObamaCare would look like if the everything had rolled out correctly. It would still be a nightmare. The internet is filling up with horror stories and I have yet to find one single trustworthy example of someone who truly benefits from this fiasco.

gmerits on October 24, 2013 at 10:24 AM

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