The Obama administration has announced another deadline extension for the Affordable Care Act, known to some as “Obamacare,” according to Fox News. The extension will apply to Americans who may have tried to comply with the original March 31 deadline but had technical problems during the application process. The new deadline, should it be needed, will extend to the middle of April.
“Open enrollment ends March 31,” said Aaron Albright of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which runs the federal insurance exchange. He added, “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.”
The New York Times reports that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has said glitches in the enrollment website have been fixed, and it is ready to handle the expected last-minute surge of applications.
The extension is seen by some as a hedge by the administration should the website falter due to the increased traffic. Such a crash could be a political liability for the president and Democrats as they head into midterm elections this year.
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Republicans were quick to point out that such a delay was becoming the norm for the White House and offered it as proof that the president’s signature domestic policy is a failure.
“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,” said Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus in a statement quoted by 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,” he added.
The White House has launched a nationwide campaign to boost enrollment in recent weeks, according to USA Today. President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, and Sebelius have all made public appearances urging families to enroll in health-care plans. It is reported that some states have as many as 150 events planned for the final week of enrollment.
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According to White House numbers, 5.2 million people have signed up for private plans as of March 1.