The Obama administration is being accused of "burying" key changes to the federal health care overhaul, as discontent grows about the roll-out of the law.
The latest surprise came this week, when the Associated Press reported that individuals will have to obtain insurance coverage by mid-February in order to avoid an IRS penalty.
That's six weeks earlier than the March 31 deadline that previously was cited.
While an administration official confirmed the moved-up deadline to the AP, the reason the public now knows about it is because tax preparation company Jackson Hewitt pointed it out.
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., in a written statement, blasted the administration for not being more up-front about these significant changes.
"This law is about as clear as mud, and instead of helping Americans understand their new obligations, the Obama administration has been burying important changes -- not announcing them boldly as you'd expect an administration that's proud of its new health care law to do. Americans deserve better from the officials who are so committed to implementing this train wreck of a law," he said.
The ObamaCare insurance exchanges already are open for business, though the roll-out has been plagued by technical glitches. Presuming the problems are worked out, the administration expects individuals to get covered by early 2014 or face a fine. According to the AP, the reason the deadline to get coverage moved up is because of the time it would take to process applications.
Jackson Hewitt found individuals would have to apply by mid-February in order to be covered by the start of March. Since coverage typically starts at the beginning of the month, individuals would not be able to wait until March 31 to sign up and still avoid the fine.
Alexander pointed to several other announcements and changes that were unveiled in obscure places or press reports.
For instance, the administration announced it was delaying the requirement on some employers to provide insurance coverage via a blog post (though it was widely noticed in the media).
The Wall Street Journal also reported, in advance of the launch of the exchanges, that there were significant design problems with the website healthcare.gov.
Alexander noted that another issue concerning whether the government could verify eligibility of applicants was "buried" in the Federal Register.