Chaos: HHS “asks” insurers to extend multiple ObamaCare deadlines

posted at 7:41 pm on December 12, 2013 by Allahpundit

The December 23rd enrollment deadline? Time to move that to next month. The deadline to pay your first month of premiums? Let’s go ahead and move that back too. Emergency treatment needed from an out-of-network provider? It’d be swell if that was covered the same way in-network treatments are. And what if your coverage is temporarily screwed up in January when you desperately need your prescriptions refilled? HHS “strongly encourages” insurers to pick up the slack.

In other words, they’re finally realizing that lots of people who had planned to have coverage next month won’t have it, whether because of their own procrastination, HHS’s technological incompetence, or the mind-boggling logistical problems that have been forced on insurers by Obama’s screw-ups and ass-covering political “fixes.” So now they’re going to pile another bunch of “fixes” on them — mere suggestions, wink-wink — and hope for the best, and if chaos ensues anyway in January, it’ll be insurers who are scapegoated.

Phil Klein’s right: It’s panic time in the White House. Let’s let this be the end of the “things are working better now” propaganda.

Among the guidance the HHS announced:

– It is requiring insurers to accept payments until Dec. 31 for coverage starting on Jan. 1. It is also “urging” insurers to give individuals more time beyond that to pay for coverage. In other words, if somebody pays for coverage in the middle of January, HHS is asking insurers to retroactively make that person’s coverage effective as of Jan. 1. HHS is also asking insurers to cover individuals who offer a “down payment,” even if that payment only covers part of the first month’s premiums.

– In a press release, HHS said it was also “strongly encouraging insurers to treat out-of-network providers as in-network to ensure continuity of care for acute episodes or if the provider was listed in their plan’s provider directory as of the date of an enrollee’s enrollment.”

– HHS is also “strongly encouraging insurers to refill prescriptions covered under previous plans during January.”…

Of course, for insurers who have spent years designing plans to comply with the law, this would present huge and unreasonable logistical hurdles.

To put it slightly differently:

Would all/any of these new fixes be illegal if HHS flatly required them? I realize it’s gauche at this point to ask whether the King can rightly suspend elements of the law that are inconvenient to him, but I feel obliged to put it out there. Maybe that’s why they’re merely being “suggested” instead of mandated — if the insurers extend the deadlines “voluntarily” (wink wink) then there are no legal implications. My hunch, though, is that the fixes are being made optional more for CYA reasons than for legal ones. If HHS mandates them — and according to CNBC, they might yet mandate an enrollment extension if Healthcare.gov has another meltdown — then next month’s havoc can be laid squarely on them. If they merely suggest them, then the havoc is really kinda sorta the fault of insurers who should have done a better job gauging whether extending the deadlines were feasible. And if an insurer decides not to extend the deadline and people are angry that they weren’t able to enroll in time, well, then that’s just a bad-apple insurer showing why they’re a bad apple.

In other news today, because Healthcare.gov’s doing so amazingly well now, HHS announced that they’re going to extend the deadline for phasing out state high-risk pools from December 31st until January. Even some sick people, who have the strongest incentive to transition to the new exchanges, can’t get enrolled in time.


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Comment pages: 1 2

Good grief. At some point, someone, anyone has to take a hold of this disaster and call it quits.
Insurance companies are not charities, they have stockholders to answer to, they have state regulations to adhere to, and all this crappola from the Feds is just that..crappola.
End this nightmare. Now.

srdem65 on December 12, 2013 at 7:56 PM

Well yeah, that’s the thing. The insurance companies are not mandated to participate in this whole charade, and a lot of them aren’t even offering any exchange plans, they’re sitting back to see what happens before they decide to participate or not. A year or two down the road a lot of these plans that are being offered now are going to be gone because the insurers are going to realize they’re losing money on them. This whole idiotic scheme is going to collapse, it’s just a question of how long it takes.

eyedoc on December 13, 2013 at 9:06 AM

{Sigh}

Seriously?

There is a little thing known as the Uniform Commercial Code that covers ALL of what has been suggested and would result in a ruling in favor of the insurance companies in ANY court with jurisdiction and even a “make-believe, I graduated from Harvard Law” moron representing them.

PolAgnostic on December 12, 2013 at 9:43 PM

Just a note. I don’t believe the UCC covers any of this.

AcidReflux on December 13, 2013 at 9:08 AM

Seriously?

There is a little thing known as the Uniform Commercial Code that covers ALL of what has been suggested and would result in a ruling in favor of the insurance companies in ANY court with jurisdiction and even a “make-believe, I graduated from Harvard Law” moron representing them.

PolAgnostic on December 12, 2013 at 9:43 PM

So a case even nonpartisan, Juris Doctor, could win?

NotCoach on December 13, 2013 at 9:13 AM

All is well! All is well!

John the Libertarian on December 13, 2013 at 9:25 AM

Lawyers are perennially short of sympathizers but imagine being in the legal department at these insurers.

Each and every day they are asked – and must answer – the question ‘Which laws do we obey today and which do we intentionally and knowingly violate?’ In what must be a violation of their oath when they were admitted to the bar, the lawyers take the coward’s way out and advise obeying the administration’s whim of the day based on personal self-preservation instinct (at best) or political allegiance (at worst).

Yes it’s easy to type lawlessness, tyranny and other dramatic-sounding terms but there is no other way to accurately describe the behavior of HHS and the rest of the DC swamp people.

jangle12 on December 13, 2013 at 10:04 AM

What about the doctors and hospitals people will be going to? How is that conversation going to go?

Do you have insurance?

Well, I tried to sign up.

No insurance then. We will require a minimum $$$ before the doctor can see you.

I don’t have that money.

You’ll have to go to the ER then.

TerryW on December 13, 2013 at 10:52 AM

I don’t think that putting the blame on the insurers will stick. Everyone knows the insurers were and are compliant with Obamacare, and they can explain that out-of-network doctors are not the same as in-network doctors because they charge more, so customers will pay more.

The Obama Administration is already being called an imperial presidency, and that is a kiss of death for the Democrats in an election year. Let’s face it nothing has been “fixed” because it’s the law that is the disaster. Just wait until the horror stories come out after January 1st for the people whose insurance was cancelled because of Obamacare.

lea on December 13, 2013 at 10:54 AM

You’ll have to go to the ER then.

TerryW on December 13, 2013 at 10:52 AM

My last emergency room visit–we had to wait four hours to get my son’s arm x-rayed. That was back in the ‘good’ days. Welcome to a new world where people die in the emergency room lobby because there’s no one to see them.

ElectricPhase on December 13, 2013 at 10:59 AM

The Dims have proven, beyond any doubt whatsoever, that they can’t be trusted. ObamaGlitch is the largest and most glaring example.

Not only did they shove this down America’s throat, even when 85% of Americans like the healthcare and healthcare insurance they HAD before this. But then they were criminally negligent with the planning and implementation of the poison pill.

And are further putting ALL Americans at even FURTHER risk, by denying their failure, and insisting that this disaster continue on and destroy even more lives in the process.

They cannot be trusted. They should be indicted and imprisoned.

Meople on December 13, 2013 at 11:04 AM

Well yeah, that’s the thing. The insurance companies are not mandated to participate in this whole charade, and a lot of them aren’t even offering any exchange plans, they’re sitting back to see what happens before they decide to participate or not. A year or two down the road a lot of these plans that are being offered now are going to be gone because the insurers are going to realize they’re losing money on them. This whole idiotic scheme is going to collapse, it’s just a question of how long it takes.

eyedoc on December 13, 2013 at 9:06 AM

And how many millions of lives its going to destroy in the process.

The Dims and Obama are guilty of the biggest, most costly fraud in history. And they were criminally negligent in its implementation. They need to be indicted, tried, convicted and imprisoned for this disaster.

Meople on December 13, 2013 at 11:14 AM

Making things up as they go…the USSA is now a Banana Republic.

If only Nurse Ratched and the land’s Pimp would go directly to Hell, pronto.

Schadenfreude on December 13, 2013 at 11:29 AM

At what point do the insurers who decided to jump on board with the Government and the EpicClusterFark realize that they’ve made a very bad deal with the devil?

Athos on December 13, 2013 at 11:41 AM

BREAKIN THE LAW….BREAKIN THE LAW…..

So, next time, should I actually break a law, I will use the Owebama defense.

“I’m sorry officer, but my president has set the precedent that there ARE no laws nor should they be followed.”

Sponge on December 13, 2013 at 11:42 AM

And how many millions of lives its going to destroy in the process.

The Dims and Obama are guilty of the biggest, most costly fraud in history. And they were criminally negligent in its implementation. They need to be indicted, tried, convicted and imprisoned for this disaster.

Meople on December 13, 2013 at 11:14 AM

Of course, you do realize that their solution to this EpicClusterFark is to go all in with single payer?

I expect to start hearing calls for this coming out of the Democrat caucus before the end of the 1st Quarter of 2014…

Athos on December 13, 2013 at 11:42 AM

Of course, you do realize that their solution to this EpicClusterFark is to go all in with single payer?

I expect to start hearing calls for this coming out of the Democrat caucus before the end of the 1st Quarter of 2014…

Athos on December 13, 2013 at 11:42 AM

Anyone that even begins to entertain the notion, after this disaster everyone has seen thus far, that the “solution” is even MORE government involvement, should be shot.

And I’m not kidding or engaging in hyperbole.

Meople on December 13, 2013 at 11:45 AM

Let’s let this be the end of the “things are working better now” propaganda.

Not our choice. The propaganda will continue long after the bitter crash.

shinty on December 13, 2013 at 12:18 PM

They didn’t “get in bed” with this Administration. They just spent the last 3 years getting into position to meet compliance with “Barry’s Law”. That cost them billions of dollars with no guarantee of return on investment. The “investment” was NOT voluntary. It was MANDATORY.

/Do not demonize these insurers.

Key West Reader on December 12, 2013 at 8:11 PM

Some insurers had dollar signs in their eyes knowing that their bottom lines would be stoked with additional mandatory policies coming their way, and so they made a deal with the devil.

That said, you’re right. All of their activity over the last few years has been to comply with the new law in good faith, which they were legally obligated to do, but which turns out to be a gigantic mistake. There is no good faith with the Obama administration. And the insurance companies should have realized that.

cheeflo on December 13, 2013 at 4:47 PM

Obama is singlehandedly destroying the American healthcare system.

justltl on December 12, 2013 at 10:16 PM

Not singlehandedly. He had 58 Democrats and 2 “Independents” in the Senate, and 219 Democrats in the House abet this crime. Add to that his enablers at HHS, DOJ, SCOTUS, et. al. Throw in the mainstream media, and it’s more like a conspiracy to destroy the American healthcare system. In fact, he is almost incidental in this fiasco, as he is in most of the initiatives undertaken in his administration. He just knows who to hire to accomplish his ends without getting his hands dirty. And he doesn’t give a damn about the consequences.

But I otherwise agree with your characterization of Obama.

cheeflo on December 13, 2013 at 5:09 PM

You know, it’s fun to watch this crash and burn, but at the end of the day, we taxpayers are going to end up having to pick up the pieces to pay for this.

I’d love to hear what the insurers say about all of this. Looking at this from my prior life in finance, I can’t help but wonder how on earth anyone can do any accounting for all of this. At the end of the day debits=credits.

COgirl on December 13, 2013 at 5:47 PM

Just a note. I don’t believe the UCC covers any of this.

AcidReflux on December 13, 2013 at 9:08 AM


I am breathless in anticipation of hearing HOW the UCC does not cover the terms of the contracts made between the health insurance companies and the individuals they are providing coverage to as their part of those contracts.

And the ability of a branch of the government to unilaterally, without due process, change the terms of the contract purely for the political convenience of the government.

Would all/any of these new fixes be illegal if HHS flatly required them?

.
Or are you intentionally ignoring AP’s question which I quoted to imply, “HHS isn’t requiring it, therefore UCC does not apply.”?

PolAgnostic on December 13, 2013 at 5:59 PM

Just a note. I don’t believe the UCC covers any of this.

AcidReflux on December 13, 2013 at 9:08 AM

I am breathless in anticipation of hearing HOW the UCC does not cover the terms of the contracts made between the health insurance companies and the individuals they are providing coverage to as their part of those contracts.

And the ability of a branch of the government to unilaterally, without due process, change the terms of the contract purely for the political convenience of the government.

Would all/any of these new fixes be illegal if HHS flatly required them?

.
Or are you intentionally ignoring AP’s question which I quoted to imply, “HHS isn’t requiring it, therefore UCC does not apply.”?

PolAgnostic on December 13, 2013 at 5:59 PM

The UCC is actually not completely uniform and differs among the various states and it covers only certain subsets of contracts, sales of good, commercial paper, secured transactions, for example.
Insurance contracts are usually governed by a separate set of state statutes and regulations, the common law, and, in the case of Obamacare, federal statutes and regulations.

I loathe Obamacare, its rollout, and operation as much as anyone, but am just stating the fact.

AcidReflux on December 14, 2013 at 9:21 AM

When is the president and the Dems going to admit that their “big plan” is not workable, not wanted or liked? Will give them some credit for trying, but full repeal is the solution for the mess they created in our nation.

Amazingoly on December 14, 2013 at 10:51 AM

If HHS mandates them — and according to CNBC, they might yet mandate an enrollment extension if Healthcare.gov has another meltdown — then next month’s havoc can be laid squarely on them. If they merely suggest them, then the havoc is really kinda sorta the fault of insurers who should have done a better job gauging whether extending the deadlines were feasible. And if an insurer decides not to extend the deadline and people are angry that they weren’t able to enroll in time, well, then that’s just a bad-apple insurer showing why they’re a bad apple.

Supp’d with the Devil. Spoon not long enough.

David Blue on December 14, 2013 at 5:58 PM

This is what a command economy looks like. All politics, no economics.

Lovemm on December 15, 2013 at 2:29 PM

The UCC is actually not completely uniform and differs among the various states and it covers only certain subsets of contracts, sales of good, commercial paper, secured transactions, for example.
Insurance contracts are usually governed by a separate set of state statutes and regulations, the common law, and, in the case of Obamacare, federal statutes and regulations.

I loathe Obamacare, its rollout, and operation as much as anyone, but am just stating the fact.

AcidReflux on December 14, 2013 at 9:21 AM

.
Rather than debate the EXTENT of U.C.C. being applicable since even where states opt out specific parts of it, the rest remains in force – or the various other Uniform Laws that have been established as antecedents to the U.C.C. – and even ignoring the “borrowing” of portions of the U.C.C. to “write” the law in a state wanting to “put their own spin” on exempted parts of the U.C.C. ….

… lets cut to the chase:

Under what law or precedent would ANY branch of the Federal government argue before a court of law its ability to unilaterally, without due process, change the terms of the contracts written between the health insurance companies and their clients purely for the political convenience of the government.

Or would that be grossly illegal?

You know, like AP was asking and I quoted.

PolAgnostic on December 16, 2013 at 1:54 AM

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