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U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testifies before a Senate Finance Committee hearing on "Health Insurance Exchanges: An Update from the Administration" and the issues surrounding the Affordable Care Act on Capitol Hill in Washington November 6, 2013. (REUTERS/Jim Bourg) U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testifies before a Senate Finance Committee hearing on "Health Insurance Exchanges: An Update from the Administration" and the issues surrounding the Affordable Care Act on Capitol Hill in Washington November 6, 2013. (REUTERS/Jim Bourg)  

Another Obamacare provision delayed a THIRD time

The Obama administration has pushed back the deadline of the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) for the third time in the past four months, allowing users to continue with the coverage until April 30.

The delay was noted only with an update Friday on the federal PCIP website as opposed to previous delays’ announcements via HHS spokesmen.

“Enrollees in the federally-run Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, who have not yet found new health insurance coverage through the Marketplace, can purchase an additional month of PCIP coverage through April 30, 2014, while they continue their search. “Time is running out,” the announcement warned. “You need to act to avoid a lapse in coverage. Open enrollment through the Marketplace for this year ends on March 31.”

The $5 billion plan was launched in 2010 as a temporary stopgap for those with pre-existing conditions until January 1 of this year, when Obamacare regulations on pre-existing conditions kicked in and the exchanges launched, but the deadline has been repeatedly pushed back.

Coverage was first extended to January 31 in December, due to HealthCare.gov’s ongoing technical problems. Another delay — again part of an effort to “smooth the transition,” was issued in mid-January allowing plans to continue until exchange enrollment closes March 31. (RELATED: Yet another Obamacare deadline pushed back)

Now that the coverage was again two weeks away from being terminated, the administration squeezed in another delay, now urgently calling for participants to find new plans. PCIP customers must now enroll in a health insurance plan by April 15 in order to get coverage by May 1.

Short, staggered extensions for the plan could indicate that the administration is having trouble getting even those with pre-existing conditions to sign up for health insurance. Ailing individuals with higher medical bills were expected to be some of the first to flock to insurance exchanges for private plans.

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