Obama includes new ObamaCare enrollment push in healthcare fix

The Obama administration's plan to let millions of people keep their old insurance policies includes a new push to get these people to sign onto an ObamaCare insurance policy.

President Obama on Thursday announced that he would waive enforcement of insurance standards in the law. That change would allow people to keep noncompliant insurance plans that are now being canceled for millions of people.

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That move was effectuated by a letter to insurance commissioners from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO). That letter, from CCIIO Director Gary Cohen, says the old plans can continue into 2014, but only if certain conditions are met.

One is that the noncompliant plan must have been in effect on Oct. 1.

Another is that insurance companies must send a notice to anyone who was told their plan was being canceled. That note must explicitly tell these people that they have a right to enroll in an ObamaCare insurance plan through the exchanges.

Among other things, companies must also provide information to these people about how to sign onto ObamaCare and must note which ObamaCare reforms are not in their old plan.

Republicans on Thursday were already criticizing Obama's announcement for passing the problem back to states and insurance companies, some of which have said it would not be easy to simply offer old plans that were on the verge of being canceled.

The CCIIO letter also indicates that the administration is considering a "transitional period" that lasts longer than one year.

"Under this transitional policy, health insurance coverage in the individual or small group market that is
renewed for a policy year starting between January 1, 2014, and October 1, 2014, and associated
group health plans of small businesses, will not be considered to be out of compliance with the market reforms specified below under the conditions specified below," the letter said.

"We will consider the impact of this transitional policy in assessing whether to extend it beyond the specified timeframe."