By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
U.S. Representative Martha Roby (R) from Montgomery on Wednesday, March 26 responded to reports that the Obama administration is planning to push back the ObamaCare March 31 open enrollment deadline.
Congresswoman Roby said that this is despite repeatedly telling Members of Congress and the public that the deadline was “firm” and they did not have the statutory authority to change it.
Rep. Roby said, “Two weeks ago, I sat in an appropriations hearing when Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said point blank that the deadline was firm and would not be changed. If President Obama’s chief healthcare administrator isn’t going to tell the truth to Congress, he shouldn’t send her to testify.
Congresswoman Roby said, “We all want as many Americans as possible to have affordable health insurance, but the deadline is there for a reason. Removing it brings more uncertainty into the marketplace and makes it difficult for providers to distill metrics and set future rates. This delay serves to hide the reality that ObamaCare is fundamentally flawed and needs to be replaced with a patient-centered system that isn’t run by the government.”
According to Roby’s office the Washington Post is reporting that the new rule will allow people to qualify for an extension simply “by checking a blue box on HealthCare.gov to indicate that they tried to enroll before the deadline. This method will rely on an honor system; the government will not try to determine whether the person is telling the truth.”
U.S. Representative Terri A. Sewell (D) from Selma on Wednesday, March 26 issued a statement to remind the people of Alabama that the deadline for applying for health insurance remains Monday, March 31. President Barack H. Obama (D) is extending the health care exchange deadline for those who start the process by March 31. This is in order to avoid problems similar to those that were faced in December when people trying to enroll by Jan. 1, 2014 overwhelmed the HealthCare.gov website.
Federal officials say they are loosening the deadline only for those with “complex or extenuating” circumstances that keep them from being fully enrolled by March 31.
On March 13, in the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee hearing Secretary Sebelius responded to questioning by Representative Chuck Fleischmann (R) from Tennessee.
Mr. Fleischmann: And I want a yes-or-no answer: Will you or will you not delay the individual enrollment deadline on any other aspect of Obamacare?
Secretary Sebelius: The enrollment deadline will not be delayed, as I said yesterday…But the enrollment deadline, which was set out to end March 31st, will end March 31st.
Mr. Fleischmann: Okay. So then we agree that there is no statutory authority to extend these deadlines and that they will not be extended.
Secretary Sebelius: The enrollment deadline will be March 31st.
After the deadline, most Americans will be required to have health insurance or risk paying a penalty of $95 or 1% of personal income, whichever is greater. The penalties are being enforced by Obama’s Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and failure to pay that penalty will likely result in additional penalties and interest. Rep. Sewell says that federal officials are expecting a surge in last-minute enrollees. While they don’t anticipate that their troubled website will break down this time, their goal is to avoid penalizing those who need extra time. According to the Obama Administration 42 million Americans remain uninsured.
As of March 1, 2014, only about 5.2 million people had enrolled in the controversial healthcare exchanges. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (Obamacare) was passed on the justification that America had to many people without health insurance. At this point more people have lost insurance due that have gained coverage under the controversial new plans.
Rep. Roby is a member of the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee.
She is seeking a third term Representing Alabama’s Second Congressional District.