Dems call for Trump officials to extend ObamaCare deadline

Dems call for Trump officials to extend ObamaCare deadline

Two top Senate Democrats are calling on the Trump administration to extend ObamaCare’s sign-up period, arguing it is being cut off too soon this year before people have time to enroll.

The sign-up period is slated to end on Friday, after beginning Nov. 1, about half as long as it has been in previous years. Sens. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenCongress should elevate those trapped in the gap – support ELEVATE Act IRS shutdown plan fails to quell worries IRS waiving penalty for some in first filing season under Trump's tax law MORE (Ore.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurraySen. Murray says Washington behavior reminds her of former preschool students Senate rejects government-wide ban on abortion funding Overnight Health Care: Dem chair plans hearing on Medicare for all | Senate GOP talks drug prices with Trump health chief | PhRMA CEO hopeful Trump reverses course on controversial pricing proposal MORE (Wash.), the top Democrats on the Senate committees overseeing health care, wrote to the administration on Tuesday calling for the period to be extended to Jan. 31.

Wyden and Murray argue the shorter enrollment period is made worse by the administration’s “sabotage” of ObamaCare, such as cutting back on advertising and outreach.

“The Administration’s decision to depart from years of agency policy by ending Open Enrollment on December 15th is compounded by the many other efforts by this Administration to destabilize the insurance market, making it likely that many consumers miss this deadline and forgo insurance next year — all despite clear indications that consumers are highly interested in seeking coverage for 2018,” the senators wrote.

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“We urge you to immediately extend Open Enrollment and to engage in concerted outreach and assistance efforts that help potential consumers obtain coverage,” they added.

The administration is unlikely to extend the enrollment period into January, but there is also the question of whether officials will extend it for a couple days to allow more time for the surge of people near the deadline to enroll. The Obama administration frequently extended the deadline by a few days.

The Trump administration has not said whether it will do so this year.

“Consistent with our aim to have a seamless open enrollment experience for consumers this year, the website is performing well and consumers can easily access enrollment tools to compare plans and prices,” a spokesperson for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said in a statement Monday.

“The deadline for people to shop and pick a plan for the upcoming year is December 15. We continue to encourage people to make plan selections by that deadline so that their coverage can begin on January 1,” the agency added.

The agency didn't respond to questions on Monday clarifying if there definitely would not be an extension, particularly if call center or website wait times occur.

There was an early surge in signups for ObamaCare this year, but experts still expect a drop-off in enrollment compared to last year, in part due to cutbacks in outreach and the shorter enrollment period.