In the aftermath of the latest Obamacare extension, the administration is refusing to reveal any details about restrictions on allowing customers to apply for coverage after the statutory deadline of March 31.
So far, all that’s known about the latest delay is that applicants will be able to check a blue box on HealthCare.gov, stating that they attempted to sign up before what was a March 31 deadline. The Washington Post reported Tuesday night that the customers will have until “about mid-April” to finish applying for coverage. (RELATED: White House extends Obamacare deadline yet again)
But during Obamacare administrator the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) official announcement of the delay on a Wednesday conference call with reporters, officials refused to say exactly how long the extended enrollment will last and what restrictions have been placed on who can sign up after the original deadline.
Instead, CMS officials brushed aside concerns about the process. The Washington Examiner’s Phil Klein reported that a CMS spokesman said that “most people are truthful when applying for those benefits,” but refused to answer questions about whether the claims would be audited or verified.
Because the extension is, in theory, available only to those who began their application prior to the deadline of March 31, the administration will rely on “self-attestation” to verify that customers were in line.
It’s not the first time the administration has relied upon personal attestation for access to taxpayer subsidies. As a result of the first employer mandate delay, the federal government is unable to verify that consumers are eligible for taxpayer subsidies on state-run exchanges — only those whose employer-provided benefits cost above a certain percentage of their annual income should be allowed the subsidies.
Since the reporting requirements for businesses were delayed, the feds have no way of knowing whether this is true, instead relying on consumers to report their eligibility correctly — which some experts warned would lead to both fraud and honest mistakes.
The administration may be doing the same thing this time around. CMS’s lack of transparency in explaining how the deadline extension will work and what — if any — the restrictions will be hardly inspires confidence that they’ll end up following their newest set of rules.
Extending open enrollment opens up Obamacare insurers to higher risk. For insurers already facing risk pools with low proportions of young and presumably healthy adults, the extension allows consumers who unexpectedly fall ill to wait to purchase health insurance after the fact. Without a clear deadline for open enrollment, Obamacare exchanges are at risk.
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