• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
News Alert: DIRECTV Customers: Tell DIRECTV to bring back KTVA - Call 800-531-5000. - Read More
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
3m 6s

Last-minute scramble on critical Obamacare deadline day

By Rebecca Kaplan / CBS News 7:48 AM December 23, 2013

After the rocky rollout of the Affordable Care Act’s federal exchanges, which led to very low enrollment numbers in the first month, the administration has been actively seeking ways to ease the sign-up process ahead of today's deadline.

The administration is scrambling to get as many people as possible signed up for health care coverage by the end of the day Monday, the final day people can enroll in insurance plans through the federal and state exchanges to receive coverage starting Jan. 1.

Efforts range from the practical – a big message on HealthCare.gov that tells people they should enroll by Monday to ensure their coverage starts on time – to the creative: the District of Columbia government dispatched someone from its health exchange, DC Health Link, to one of the city’s gay clubs to sign people up.

After the rocky rollout of the Affordable Care Act’s federal exchanges, which led to very low enrollment numbers in the first month, the administration has been actively seeking ways to ease the sign-up process ahead of the Dec. 23 deadline (people will be able to enroll in the federal exchanges until March 31 to avoid paying a penalty). On Friday, President Obama announced that 1 million people have enrolled for insurance so far – a huge jump from the end of November, when just 365,000 had signed up, but still far short of the administration’s initial target of 3.3 million enrollees by the end of the year.

“When you try to do something this big affecting this many people, it’s going to be hard,” Mr. Obama said during a Friday news conference before he left for a vacation in Hawaii with his family. “Despite the website problems, despite the messaging problems, it’s working.”

Several last-minute changes to the law could, in theory, make things easier for people rushing to sign up at the last minute. First, the administration extended the enrollment deadline to get coverage by Jan. 1, 2014, from Dec. 15 to Dec. 23.  Last week the board of the biggest trade group for insurance companies, America’s Health Insurance Plan, said consumers will have until Jan. 10 to pay their first premium, rather than Jan. 1.

Then, on Friday, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius wrote to a group of senators saying she will issue a “hardship exemption” from tax penalties for people whose plans were cancelled but were not able to purchase new insurance by the deadline.

But the additional flexibility has done little to silence critics of the law, including skeptical Democrats. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., is one such lawmaker. He and Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., have introduced legislation to delay for one year the requirement that Americans purchase insurance coverage or face a penalty.

“This whole 2014 will be a transitional year. To find out where our glitches are and our little nuances that we have to work for, and find out if the market can produce the products that we need to keep this and us healthy. That’s what it’s all about,” Manchin said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

He didn’t sound optimistic about the law’s prospects without such a delay.

“At the end of the day, if it’s so much more expensive than what we anticipated and that the coverage is not as good as what we’ve had, you’ve got a complete meltdown at that time. So this transitional year gives you a chance to adjust the products to the market. And to see if the market will absorb and buy the product,” he said.

And Republicans, who have kept up a steady drumbeat of criticism on top of several attempts to repeal the law, are sticking to their predictions: no matter how many fixes are implemented, it still won’t work.

“You can’t fix this mess,” said Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

© 2013 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Latest Stories

  • Lifestyle

    SpaceX says it will fly 2 people around the moon next year

    by Associated Press on Feb 27, 13:23

    SpaceX says it will fly two people to the moon next year. Company chief Elon Musk announced the surprising news Monday. Two people who know one another approached the company about sending them on a weeklong flight just beyond the moon. Musk won’t identify the pair or the price tag. He says they’ve already paid […]

  • On-Air

    Teacher of the Week: Laura Freeman

    by James Gaddis on Feb 27, 12:14

    For the first time in Laura Freeman’s 16-year teaching career, she is teaching just one subject — math. KTVA 11’s Teacher of the Week was instrumental in changing the fifth and sixth grade class structure, at Baxter Elementary School, to a middle school model. This year, the school’s oldest students have a different teacher for math, english, […]

  • Weather

    Plow crews reopen Elliott Highway, work to open Steese

    by Associated Press on Feb 27, 10:28

    ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – Heavy snowfall and strong winds closed two northern Alaska highways over the weekend. Alaska Department of Transportation spokeswoman Meadow Bailey says crews have reopened the Elliott Highway after a closure Sunday and are working to reopen the Steese Highway. She says truckers heading for North Slope oil fields face hazardous conditions […]

  • News

    Wasilla man killed in snowmachine wreck in Talkeetna

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Feb 27, 9:30

    A 19-year-old was killed in a snowmachine wreck in Talkeetna Sunday. At 3:20 p.m., Alaska State Troopers were notified of a “possible fatality in the area of the Talkeetna Mountains, near Yoder Road, in Talkeetna,” the agency said. Jacob Harris, of Wasilla, was found underneath his idling snowmachine near a steep embankment. He was unresponsive. Other […]

  • News

    AST: 1 killed in Butte house fire

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Feb 27, 9:20

    A woman was killed and a man was injured in a house fire on South Knik River Road Sunday, according to Alaska State Troopers. Troopers and the Mat-Su Fire Department were called to the home at 12:54 p.m. for a report of a residence fully engulfed in flames, with one woman still inside, AST said. “Investigation revealed […]

  • Lifestyle

    Chugiak first responder thankful for community support after snowboarding accident

    by Daniella Rivera on Feb 27, 7:30

    A Chugiak first responder who’s used to rescuing other people found himself on the other side of an accident last week. Peter Casey works as a flight paramedic for LifeMed Alaska and helps out with Chugiak Volunteer Fire and Rescue. In his free time, the lifelong Alaskan enjoys the outdoors and spending time with his family. But […]

  • Poll: US teens disillusioned, divided by politics

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Feb 27, 6:17

    PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – A survey of children ages 13 to 17 finds that America’s teens are almost as politically disillusioned and pessimistic about the nation’s divisions as their parents. But they aren’t quite as quick to write off the future as adults. The poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds […]

  • News

    Hostetler Park renovation project includes new plan for Alaska Victims Memorial

    by Eric Ruble on Feb 26, 18:45

    A small park in the northwest corner of downtown Anchorage will soon have a new look. Hostetler Park is located where Third Avenue becomes L Street. Since 1994, the eastern portion of the park has been occupied by the Alaska Victims Memorial. It includes the names of more than 350 Alaskans who died because of […]