The Obama administration will delay second-year enrollment in Obamacare by one month, effectively pushing back sign-ups for health exchanges until after the 2014 midterm elections, a Health and Human Services official told the Washington Examiner.
“HHS will soon be signaling its intent to change the 2015 open enrollment period for the health insurance marketplace by one month, which will give issuers the benefit of more time to evaluate their experiences during the 2014 plan year and allow them to take into account those who may enroll late, including young adults, before setting 2015 rates,” the official said.
“This change is good news for consumers, who will have more time to learn about plans before enrolling and an open enrollment period that’s a week longer,” the HHS official added.
Open enrollment in Obamacare will now start on Nov. 15, rather than Oct. 15, of next year. As a result, consumers will have until Jan. 15, 2015, instead of Dec. 7, 2014, to sign up.
Republicans immediately ripped the move as an obvious attempt by the Obama administration to lessen political blowback around next year's midterm elections. Democrats have been on the defensive for the problem-ridden rollout of the healthcare.gov website and President Obama's broken promise that all Americans could keep their insurance coverage under his health blueprint.
“How convenient,” quipped one senior GOP Senate aide. “This is an obvious attempt to minimize damage. No matter how hard they try, though, they will have to answer for Obamacare at the ballot box.”
Administration officials counter that the delay will lead to more accurate and affordable health premiums in 2015.
Republicans argue that the delay is actually meant to push back "rate shock" until after the elections.
"Another day, another delay, which begs the question: Does the president think enrollment will be just as bad next year?" asked Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., who is investigating the Obamacare rollout.
The change will not affect initial enrollment in Obamacare. Consumers still have until the end of March to obtain health insurance or pay a fine.
The administrative change was first reported late Thursday by Bloomberg.