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 WydenOn The Money — Will the billionaire tax survive Joe Manchin? Patience wears thin as Democrats miss deadlines Crucial talks on Biden agenda enter homestretch MORE (Ore.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayDemocrats try to back Manchin off killing paid family leave proposal Democrats cutting paid leave from spending deal amid Manchin opposition Under pressure, Democrats cut back spending 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.
“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.