Hospitals: Extend grace period for missed ObamaCare premiums

"This grace period protects low-income individuals who wish to purchase health insurance, but who may experience temporary difficulty in paying premiums during a given time period, giving them an opportunity to catch up," the hospital associations wrote in a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the agency implementing most of ObamaCare.

The administration had initially proposed such a grace period, the hospital associations said, but reversed course and said insurers could cancel coverage as early as 30 days after a missed premium payment.

Shortening the grace period to one month, instead of three, creates a new financial strain on healthcare providers, the hospital groups said.

"CMS's approach also unfairly burdens providers who treat these patients because they will not get paid by the (insurance company) for covered services and will have to wait to try to obtain direct payment from the patient," the hospital groups wrote. "The reality is that it will be extremely difficult to collect payment from low-income patients who already are having trouble paying their … premiums."

The letter was signed by the American Hospital Association, the Federation of American Hospitals and the Association of American Medical Colleges.