Published December 20, 2015
The Obama administration is preparing to announce a new delay in the health care law's implementation that would allow insurers to continue offering health plans that do not meet ObamaCare's minimum coverage requirements.
President Obama, under pressure over widespread health plan cancellations, offered a solution in November allowing Americans to keep their current insurance policies for another year, even if their plans didn't meet the minimum standards.
The latest delay, expected to be announced as early as next week, would allow insurers to continue selling insurance plans that would otherwise be banned under the law. Fox News has confirmed the extension, first reported by The Hill.
It is unclear how long the extension will be, though one unidentified source told the Hill it could last to the end of Obama's second term, and possibly beyond.
The extension would ease pressure on Democratic candidates in the midterm elections by avoiding another wave of health policy cancellations expected this fall.
"I don’t see how they could have a bunch of these announcements going out in September,” a health insurance industry consultant told The Hill. "Not when they’re trying to defend the Senate and keep their losses at a minimum in the House. This is not something to have out there right before the election."
Separately, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner confirmed Tuesday that the total number of new Medicaid enrollments under ObamaCare is not as high as some have suggested. Though some officials have touted that more than 8 million have signed on, Tavenner acknowledged that between 2.5 million and 3 million are actually new enrollments due to ObamaCare.
In Congress, Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu, who faces a tough re-election fight in Louisiana, has introduced a bill that would force insurance companies to reinstate canceled policies that Obama repeatedly vowed that Americans would be able to keep.
Democrats have struggled to defend the Affordable Care Act, especially vulnerable Senate incumbents whose fate could decide majority control.
Last week, House Republican leaders held a discussion session on putting together a viable alternative to ObamaCare. The session, which produced no legislation, comes in an election year in which the GOP sees the unpopular law as their ticket to political victory in November.
Republicans who have derided Obama's law have voted some 50 times to repeal, gut or change the Affordable Care Act, but they've been unable to unify around a credible alternative.
The House is slated to vote this week on a measure that targets one element of the law, eliminating the penalty for individuals who fail to sign up for health care insurance.
Some insurers, meanwhile, have expressed dismay over the administration's changes to the law since its glitch-ridden rollout in October. One industry executive told The Hill the changing deadlines make it difficult to price health plans.
“These stops and starts make it very difficult because we set rates based on predictive modeling," the executive said. “When you change the rules, it has a detrimental impact on your ability to calculate your risk pool and your prices."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.