HHS Has Authority To Grant Exceptions to Open Enrollment
HHS can extend the general open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act's insurance exchanges beyond March 31, despite statements from department officials that they cannot or do not have plans to do so, Modern Healthcare's "Vital Signs" reports.
During a media conference call last week, HHS Office of Health Reform Director Michael Hash said, "We do not believe we have the authority to extend that period beyond March 31," adding, "We have no plans to do so." HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius echoed Hash's comments during a House committee hearing last week, saying that the Obama administration will not extend the enrollment period.
However, Sebelius during the hearing said that her department could grant special enrollment periods, or SEPs, for consumers who are still unable to complete their enrollment applications through HealthCare.gov because of lingering technological problems, according to "Vital Signs."
She said HHS has "made it clear that if, through no fault of their own, [consumers] were unable to enroll, that eligibility extends to a delayed enrollment period and they will have a special enrollment period which we have the authority to grant."
"Vital Signs" notes that HHS had granted a special enrollment period in December 2013 so that consumers, who struggled to complete their applications because of HealthCare.gov's glitches, could still qualify for coverage that took effect on Jan. 1 (Demko, "Vital Signs," Modern Healthcare, 3/18).
Obama Admin Targets 10 States With Highest Uninsured Rates
Meanwhile, the administration and ACA supporters are stepping up their exchange enrollment outreach efforts in 10 states that could determine whether it achieves a projected goal of enrolling six million people by March 31, Kaiser Health News reports. The uninsured in those states -- seven of which are governed by Republicans -- account for almost two-thirds of the nation's 47 million uninsured residents (Galewitz, Kaiser Health News, 3/19).
On Monday, CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner announced that as of Sunday at least five million people had enrolled in health plans through the Affordable Care Act's federal and state-operated insurance exchanges (California Healthline, 3/18).
According to KHN, "hundreds" of enrollment events have been planned during the next several days in the 10 states, which are:
- New Jersey;
- New York;
- North Carolina;
- Pennsylvania; and
Only two of those states -- California and New York -- are operating their own exchanges. State-run exchanges generally are faring better in terms of enrollment because of the additional funding they received under the ACA, KHN reports (Kaiser Health News, 3/19).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.