As Gomer Pyle used to say “Surprise, Surprise, Surprise.”
What is no surprise is that the Obamacare registration system failed again – spectacularly!
Last week was the deadline for enrollment in Obamacare. It expired, but it continues – remaining open indefinitely for anyone who partially completed their forms. That is the same thing as happened last year. They want to appease angry constituents and avert the debacle of low numbers.
Senate Democrats urged Barack Obama to approve another extension for those who face penalties for not having health insurance in 2014, according to a report in The New York Times.
Why would 11 democrat senators do that? They made the laws, they set up the penalties, but they don’t want their constituents being hit by them.
Last week, the eleven senators wrote to the administration calling for a reprieve so uninsured people who pay the 2014 tax penalty could enroll in health plans and avoid the higher fees for 2015.
The letter to Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Secretary of Health and Human Services, said “After paying the fee, these individuals may seek to purchase affordable health insurance and avoid a similar fee for 2015, only to discover that the open enrollment window closed on Feb. 15.”
The list of Democratic Senators signing that letter included Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Charles Schumer of New York, independent Sen. Angus King of Maine and six others.
The Times reported that Senator Heitkamp said, “Some Americans will realize too late that they will be forced to pay a penalty for not having health coverage. At the same time, they will no longer be able to sign up for that coverage because the enrollment period closed.”
The final decision on extending the enrollment period for those people has not yet been officially approved. The Obama administration is expected to make that decision later this month.
The smart money says the door will be left wide open. It will be known as the “special enrollment period” for those who face tax penalties because they failed to sign up for health coverage last year and also missed the deadline to obtain coverage for 2015. Perhaps next time these senators are presented with a law they are asked to pass before they can read what is in it, they will actually read and understand the implications first. These 11 senators are now struggling to keep their electorate happy with an unpopular law.
According to the story in The Times, hundreds of thousands of people attempted to beat the midnight deadline for HealthCare.gov, and 60,000 people were trying to use the site on Sunday. Senators are responsive to numbers of that magnitude.
The website wasn’t the only problem. Many consumers tried to sign up by phone, but they were left on hold with no response because the system failed. They were told it was due to “high call volume,” and the wait could be over 30 minutes. It was more like never.
What a mess!