President Barack Obama's administration has decided to extend the deadline for consumers unable to enroll for health insurance on Healthcare.gov, as the government struggles to reach its goal of six million enrollments for subsidized private health insurance, news reports said Tuesday, while Republican lawmakers denounced the move as yet another delay in a failed attempt at reforming health care.
Government officials reportedly said that applicants will have to attest that special circumstances had not allowed them to enroll on time in order to qualify for an extension, but did not specify how long the deadline would be extended, Associated Press, or AP, reported. A report from The Washington Post, citing federal officials, noted that people unable to enroll by the March 31 deadline would have until mid-April to request an extension.
"We are experiencing a surge in demand and are making sure that we will be ready to help consumers who may be in line by the deadline to complete enrollment, either online or over the phone," Aaron Albright, Health and Human Services spokesman, said according to AP.
The length of the extension would depend on how many people requested for it, the Post report said, citing a Health and Human Services official.
The U.S. government has struggled to reach its goal of 6 million enrollments for its plan that offers subsidized private health insurance to those not offered it by their workplace. Meanwhile, Republicans who have opposed the health care reform and have criticized the Healthcare.gov website, which has been riddled with problems since its launch, could choose to capitalize on the latest delay to strengthen their call for a repeal of the law, AP reported.
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“Another day, another ObamaCare delay from the same Obama administration that won’t work with Republicans to help Americans suffering from the unintended consequences of the Democrats’ failed health care law,” Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, reportedly said, according to Fox News. "Democrats in leadership may say they are doubling down on ObamaCare but you have to wonder how many more unilateral delays their candidates running in 2014 can withstand.”
There have been arguments to extend the deadline until April 15, which is the deadline to file taxes, to allow people to use their tax refunds to pay for health premiums if they chose to do so, AP reported.
Brian Haile, senior vice president for health policy at Jackson Hewitt, a firm that assists in filing taxes, told Fox News: "The disbursement of tax refunds appears to be making a substantial difference in the willingness and ability of uninsured Americans to sign up for ... coverage.”