Obamacare has been delayed once again, so if you like your plan, you really can keep it — through the 2016 election.
In a move that was immediately attacked by Republicans, the Obama administration announced on Tuesday it would allow insurers to keep offering “grandfathered” health care plans that don’t meet basic requirements of the Affordable Care Act through Oct. 1, 2016 — a two-year extension.
It means nearly 500,000 people won’t get cancellation notices right ahead of the 2014 mid-term elections.
“This reeks of politics,” said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner. “Instead of working with Congress to prevent Americans from losing the plans they like and can afford, the president is unilaterally re-writing laws around the election calendar. You have to wonder if he’s more interested in keeping his promise or keeping seats in the Senate.”
In November, after a media firestorm amid a flawed rollout of the health-care law, Obama announced insurance companies could keep offering the grandfathered for another year. The new policy gives states and issuers the option of allowing consumers to renew these plans for another two years.
The latest change in Obamacare comes less than a month after the Obama administration announced a second delay to the employer mandate.
Administration officials denied any political motives behind the alterations. However, the administration did say the changes were made in consultation with certain Democratic senators including a quarter who are up for re-election this year — Mark Warner (Va.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Mary Landrieu (La.), and Mark Udall (Colo.).
“These policies, from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Treasury Department, implement the health care law in a common-sense way by continuing to smooth the transition for consumers and employers, recognising that in many cases a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work best,” a senior Obama administration official said.
The administration also announced a change to the “risk corridor” program, which aims to make it easier for insurance companies to transition to the new health-care system. This is done largely by making it less financially risky for them to sell new insurance plans on the exchanges established by the Affordable Care Act. Under the change, the administration said the government won’t lose money on the program, and that it would be budget neutral.
“We’ve always said we were going to take steps to smooth out the implementation,” White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters on Air Force One.
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