• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
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

  • News

    After blaze in Bethel, alcohol addiction counselors soldier on

    by Kate McPherson on Oct 29, 23:10

    Reaching out for help to overcome alcohol addiction can be hard. Experts in Bethel say finding someone who can help can be even harder, especially in rural Alaska. People travel to Bethel from all over Alaska for treatment at the Phillips Ayagnirvik (or Alcoholism) Treatment Center, whose renovated building went down in flames on Monday […]

  • Lifestyle

    Families in Alaska concerned over proposed Medicaid reforms

    by Bonney Bowman on Oct 29, 21:05

    One year ago, Gov. Sean Parnell announced Alaska would not accept billions in federal dollars to expand the state’s Medicaid system. Instead, he set up a committee to reform it and make it sustainable and easy to use for providers and recipients. In a meeting with the committee today, dozens of Medicaid recipients and service […]

  • Weather

    Evening News weather, Oct. 29

    by KTVA Weather on Oct 29, 20:41

    Kenai Peninsula and Prince William Sound Skies will be partly to mostly cloudy. Southeast Rain will be found to the north with mostly cloudy skies to the south. Interior/North Slope In the Interior, skies will be partly cloudy. On the North Slope, skies will be mostly cloudy with some light snow at times. Mat-Su Valley […]

  • News

    Mountain View revitalization continues with another new restaurant

    by Heather Hintze on Oct 29, 19:10

    The smell of fresh sauerkraut and schnitzel wafts in the air at West Berlin. The new restaurant, located at the corner of Mountain View Drive and North Park Street, just opened for business on Monday. Owner Bill Hoopai is no stranger to the restaurant world; he’s operated the three Hula Hands locations since 2000 but is […]

  • Sports

    UAA Volleyball No. 2 in division rankings

    by KTVA Sports on Oct 29, 18:29

    After splitting its matches last week, the UAA volleyball squad entered the season’s initial Division II West rankings in second place. The Seawolves came into the week with a 17-4 overall record (11-2 GNAC). Northwest Nazarene, who, so far, beat UAA twice this season, sits at the top of the standings. Along with the Seawolves […]

  • Lifestyle

    Self-expression through art helps student veterans at UAA

    by Hope Miller on Oct 29, 18:24

    Two counselors at the University of Alaska Anchorage are using an unconventional method to help student veterans who may be having a tough time. It’s called “Operation: Self Expression” and the mission is to use art to get student veterans to open up about their emotions. “It’s theraputic, but we’re not trying to push it […]

  • News

    AFD seeks help solving suspicious Anchorage fires

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 29, 17:23

    Investigators are seeking the public’s help solving two recent structure fires in the area of 80th Avenue and Old Seward Highway. The fires occurred within days of each other, both in unoccupied structures, according to a release from AFD. The first took place in a new building that was under contruction on the 600 block […]

  • Politics

    Campaign 2014: Don Young

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 29, 17:01

      This week, KTVA is running a series of interviews with the main candidates for office. Today, the focus is on U.S. Rep. Don Young. This interview was conducted just hours before the congressman went to Wasilla High School, where he was criticized for making inappropriate remarks about suicide. KTVA’s Rhonda McBride asks Young about his […]