• 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

  • DayBreak

    Healthy Sexuality Week at UAA

    by Daybreak Staff on Feb 11, 13:48

    Healthy sexuality is defined by the World Health Organization as “a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality.” As Valentine’s Day draws near, the University of Alaska Anchorage is raising awareness in a week’s worth of events. Thursday, Kate Fitzgerald, a health promotions specialist with UAA joined Daybreak to talk […]

  • DayBreak

    Mic Check in the Morning: The Midnight Sons A Capella Chorus

    by Daybreak Staff on Feb 11, 13:40

    Nothing says I love you, like a song. A singing telegram on Valentine’s Day may be what you need to win over your sweetheart. Thursday, Midnight Sons A Capella Chorus joined Daybreak for a Valentine’s Day edition of Mic Check in the Morning. They gave viewers a taste of what can be expected if you […]

  • Lifestyle

    US stocks fall for fourth straight day

    by Associated Press on Feb 11, 13:10

    U.S. stocks fell for the fourth day in a row as concerns about global economic weakness intensified, even as Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen reiterated her confidence in the U.S. economy. Financial stocks fell hardest Thursday as investors worried that interest rates in the U.S. and elsewhere would remain low and sap bank profits. Oil […]

  • News

    Alaska adopts new rules for dispersant use in oil spills

    by Associated Press on Feb 11, 12:21

    Alaska oil spill responders have adopted new rules for the rapid use of chemical dispersant but say dispersant will continue to be considered only rarely when mechanical cleanup is not practical. Chemical dispersant has been used on an oil spill just once in Alaska in the last 40 years — in tests during the 11-million […]

  • News

    Driver killed in crash at C and Dimond identified

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Feb 11, 11:00

    Updated at 11:15 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 11 The driver killed in a single-car rollover Feb. 5 near the intersection of Dimond Boulevard and C Street has been identified as 27-year-old Frank Bavilla III. According to a release from the Anchorage Police Department, his remains were identified by the state medical examiner and the cause […]

  • Sports

    Dimond HS hockey coach first to reach milestone 500 wins

    by Dave Goldman on Feb 11, 10:38

    Last Updated: Thurs., Feb 11, 2016 at 1:50 p.m. It’s official — Dimond High School hockey coach Dennis Sorenson has become the first coach in Alaska to reach 500 wins. The Lynx defeated Juneau-Douglas 9 to 1 in the first round of the Alaska School Activities Association (ASAA) First National Cup State Championships Thursday afternoon. […]

  • News

    Sled dog race returns to Fairbanks’ Mushers Hall

    by Associated Press on Feb 11, 9:24

    The GCI Open North American Championships will start and finish at the Mushers Hall in Fairbanks for the second straight year. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports that officials with the Alaska Dog Mushers Association announced Tuesday that they are moving the March 18 event from the city’s downtown area and back to the Jeff Studdert Racegrounds. […]

  • Crime

    Inmate suffers life-threatening injuries at Kenai prison

    by Associated Press on Feb 11, 9:20

    An inmate at a prison in Kenai was transported to Anchorage after suffering life-threatening injuries in an assault. Alaska State Troopers in Soldotna just before 4 p.m. Tuesday received a report of an assault involving two inmates at Wildwood Correctional Center. One inmate was taken to Central Peninsula Hospital in Soldotna and then medically evacuated […]