Door open on ObamaCare sign-up extension

Senior officials in charge of ObamaCare left the door open Wednesday to the possibility of extending the current enrollment period past Feb. 15.

One leader with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) did not rule out the option but said the agency will not make a decision for several weeks.


"We're making sure people know about the Feb. 15 [enrollment] deadline," the official told reporters after repeated questions on a press call.

"It would be a mistake for people to assume that they have opportunities beyond Feb. 15. We'll deal with special situations and considerations once we get past Feb. 15."

The official said the CMS would "address the question later" if it arises.

The Obama administration is facing a new set of circumstances as it weighs whether to extend enrollment this year.

While the online sign-up systems are functioning much better than they did in 2013 and 2014, this is the first tax season in which people will have to pay a fine if they were uninsured last year.

One rationale for pushing back the deadline would be to allow people who learn about the individual mandate while doing their taxes to go the marketplace and buy coverage for 2015.

Under the current timetable, people who learn about the individual mandate after Feb. 15 will be out of luck unless they qualify for a special enrollment period due to life circumstances.

The call with reporters laid out efforts by the Obama administration to educate taxpayers about the new requirements under the healthcare law.

The CMS and Treasury Department are collaborating with nonprofit groups and tax preparers as people begin to work on their returns.

The administration also estimated that up to 6 million people will be responsible for paying a penalty under ObamaCare this year because they lacked insurance in 2014 and do not qualify for an exemption.