Very quietly, administration 'tweaks' individual mandate
It's not a delay of the mandate. Obama just waved his magic executive power wand and altered the date where consumers actually have to be covered by a health insurance plan.
Don't worry. I'm sure it's all perfectly legal...er, well, he says it is.
The Obama administration said Wednesday night that it will give Americans who buy health insurance through the new online marketplaces an extra six weeks to obtain coverage before they incur a penalty.
The announcement means that those who buy coverage through the exchange will have until March 31 to sign up for a plan, according to an official with the Department of Health and Human Services.
Administration officials said that the rejiggered deadline is unrelated to the many technical problems that have emerged with the Web site, HealthCare.gov, in its first three weeks. Instead, they said, it is designed to clear up a timing confusion about the 2010 law, which for the first time requires most Americans to buy health coverage or face a penalty.
Under the law, health plans available through the new federal or state marketplaces will start Jan. 1, but the open enrollment period runs through the end of March. The law also says that people will be fined only if they do not have coverage for three months in a row. The question has been this: Do people need to be covered by March 31, or merely to have signed up by then, given that insurance policies have a brief lag before they take effect?
The administration made clear Wednesday night that people who buy coverage at any point during the open enrollment period will not pay a penalty.
It is the latest sign that the health-care law remains a moving target, even after the launch of the federal insurance marketplace, which has faced myriad problems that have frustrated many people trying to sign up for coverage.
What's that? The regs (which carry with them the force of law) say that you must be covered by March 31, 2014 but Obama now says you only need to purchase insurance by that date?
Silly bunny. Laws are for little people.
And how dare you doubt our president when his administration says that the "rejiggered deadline is unrelated to the many technical problems that have emerged with the Web site, HealthCare.gov." Of course it isn't. Nothing we do to "tweak" the law has anything to do with the catastrophic rollout of Obamacare. Pure coincidence.
In truth, the notion that your insurance coverage would have to kick in before March 31 was always a problem since companies have different procedures to start coverage. Some might have been able to sign up as late as March 1 while others still wouldn't be covered if they signed up by February 15. The "tweak" ends the confusion - despite the fact that it was another decision by the executive branch without consulting or seeking approval from the guys who actually wrote the law - our Congress.
Hat Tip: Ed Lasky