Feds announce steps in effort to smooth transition to health law, avoid coverage lapses

Published on December 14, 2013 at 10:01 AM · No Comments

The Obama administration announced Thursday a series of actions -- including giving consumers more time to pay their premiums and an extension of a high-risk insurance program -- to help prevent lapses in insurance coverage as key parts of the health law kick in on Jan. 1.   

The Associated Press: Feds Try To Smooth Bumpy Health Care Transition
Anticipating more health care disruptions, the Obama administration Thursday announced a batch of measures intended to help consumers avoid lapses in their care and coverage as the president's overhaul takes effect in January. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius also announced a one-month extension of a special insurance program created by the law for people who cannot get coverage because of health problems. Scheduled to expire at the end of the year, the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan will remain in place through January (Alonso-Zaldivar, 12/12). 

Politico: Health And Human Services Addresses Fear Of Jan. 1 Health Coverage Gap
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the moves will give consumers "more peace of mind and even more confidence that it [insurance] will be there when they want and need it." She took part briefly in a press call but took no questions. The administration has faced a crisis as millions of people have learned that their current health insurance plan is being cancelled, while problems with HealthCare.gov and some of the state exchanges have made enrollment difficult. The signup system is better now but still imperfect and it's an open question whether everyone who needs to sign up this year will be able to do so. Republicans have said more people might lose coverage under Obamacare than gain it, at least in the early months (Norman, 12/12).

Politico: Obamacare: One Punt After Another
Why do Republicans even bother trying to delay Obamacare? President Barack Obama's doing it all by himself. On Thursday, the Obama administration gave customers permission to pay their premiums as late as Dec. 31 for coverage that starts Jan. 1, and officially gave customers an extra week -; until Dec. 23 -; to sign up for January coverage. The move was just the latest in a long list of extensions, delays and punts that have plagued the health care law (Nather and Kenen, 12/12).

The New York Times: Health Plans Urged To Extend Enrollment
With many Americans still foiled in their efforts to buy insurance under the new health care law, the Obama administration moved Thursday to give them more time to sign up and pay premiums, and it extended a program for people with cancer, heart disease and other serious illnesses (Pear, 12/12).

The Wall Street Journal: Health Insurers Told To Ease Coverage Rules
The government on Thursday announced steps to stave off unpleasant surprises for Americans when the health-overhaul law fully kicks in Jan. 1, including measures to ensure continuous care for people with serious medical conditions. The moves include a one-month extension of a federal insurance program for certain chronically ill people. The Obama administration also asked insurers to take a flexible approach about their rules when patients refill prescriptions or see their existing doctor in the early days of the new year in case new health plans haven't kicked in (Radnofsky, 12/11).

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