OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Another ObamaCare deadline extended

The Obama administration on Thursday pushed back the deadline for consumers to make their first payment for coverage under the healthcare law.

Rather than a deadline of Dec. 23, insurers will be required to accept premium payments through Dec. 31 for people who are seeking coverage that starts on Jan. 1.



In a conference call with reporters, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said insurers have the latitude to accept premiums even beyond Dec. 31, and that the administration was “strongly encouraging” them to retroactively cover consumers that submit late payments.

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In addition to the one-week extension for premium payments, the administration on Thursday formalized its announcement that consumers have until Dec. 23, instead of Dec. 15, to sign up for healthcare coverage that goes into affect Jan. 1.



Thursday’s announcement is the latest in a string of unilateral delays the administration has implemented to buy time after the disastrous rollout of HealthCare.gov. Jonathan Easley at The Hill reports.

Trust Issue #1: The Obama administration on Thursday escalated its feuding with Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), telling him he cannot have physical copies of ObamaCare security documents because he might leak them.

Issa, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, has requested copies of six reports prepared by a contractor that outline security vulnerabilities with the ObamaCare enrollment portal HealthCare.gov. In a letter sent Thursday, the administration argues that because of Issa's history of selective leaks to the media, he can't be trusted with the materials. Justin Sink at The Hill reports.

Trust Issue #2: The political fact-checking organization Politifact has deemed President Obama’s claim that if you like your plan you can keep it under the healthcare overhaul its “Lie of the Year.”

“It was a catchy political pitch and a chance to calm nerves about his dramatic plan to bring historic change to America’s health insurance system,” Politifact wrote. “But the promise was impossible to keep.” Jonathan Easley at The Hill reports.

Doc fix: Committee leaders in both the House and Senate expressed optimism Thursday that Congress could soon reform Medicare's flawed physician payment system.

The chairmen of the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees urged quick progress on bills to repeal the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula, a goal that's eluded Congress for more than a decade. Both panels were marking up bills Thursday that would repeal the SGR and replace it with a system moving Medicare toward value-based payments.Doctors who serve Medicare patients are facing a pay cut of about 20 percent at the end of the year unless Congress acts. Elise Viebeck at The Hill reports.

 

State by State:

Tennesseans back Medicaid expansion, WBIR reports.

New York’s Democratic governor spars with President Obama over the Medicaid expansion, The Washington Post reports.

Reading List:

Republican hypocrisy on healthcare, by Ezra Klein.

Please pray for me, I’m losing my health insurance, by Jim Hoft.

What you may have missed at HealthWatch:

White House delays ObamaCare enrollment for sickest Americans.

Cummings: ObamaCare like Mandela’s fight against apartheid.


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Jonathan Easley / jeasley@thehill.com / 202-407-8014 / @joneasley

Elise Viebeck / eviebeck@thehill.com / 202-628-8523 / @eliseviebeck