OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Friction grows over O-Care delay

Discontent over O-Care: The health insurance industry can't wait for ObamaCare's first enrollment season to be over so that it can have a break from dealing with the White House, sources on K Street say. 

Insurers feel that the administration has taken advantage of them by making repeated delays and changes to the law, even as they have gone above and beyond the call of duty to fix problems with the rollout. 

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The administration is nursing grievances as well, feeling insurers don’t have the best interests of consumers at heart and should temper their criticism as they do more to make the law work.

The tensions between insurers and the White House were described to The Hill by five healthcare lobbyists, both Republican and Democrat, who requested anonymity to speak freely.

They said constant back-and-forth between interest groups and the administration since last fall have left the participants tired and on edge despite outward signs of cooperation.

Check out The Hill's Healthwatch blog for more Thursday morning.

Leeway: The Obama administration left itself plenty of leeway with its latest unilateral change to ObamaCare. The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services said Wednesday applicants need only sign an “attestation” that they tried to obtain coverage before the deadline or that they suffered one of the extenuating circumstances the administration says qualifies a person for an extension. They declined to answer directly when asked if the attestation would be audited, if there would be a penalty for lying, if the administration believed it would turn someone away who is seeking an extension, or if the administration was essentially using the “honor system” to determine whether consumers made a good-faith effort to enroll. Jonathan Easley at The Hill reports.

Bush: Democrats are pushing back at Republican outrage over the Obama administration’s latest unilateral change to ObamaCare, pointing to instances when former President George W. Bush enacted similar extensions to the Medicare prescription drug benefit program. The Obama administration said Tuesday it would extend the March 31 open enrollment deadline for people who say they tried to sign up for insurance coverage on the new healthcare exchanges but failed to complete the process on time. Jonathan Easley at The Hill reports.

Not funny: “What the hell is this, a joke?” Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said at his weekly press conference. He was responding to the administration’s announcement on Tuesday evening that people who had begun the process of signing up for insurance through the federal exchanges would have until mid-April to do so, instead of March 31. The Speaker called the move “another deadline made meaningless,” adding it to a litany of unilateral changes that the administration has made to the law. Russell Berman at The Hill reports.

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