Team Obama Plans To Push 2014 O-Care Enrollment To November

Strange how this ends up being after the 2014 mid-terms election date, wouldn’t you say?

(Bloomberg) The Obama administration plans to push back by a month the second-year start of enrollment in its health program to give insurers more time to adjust to growing pains in the U.S. law, a move that may stave off higher premiums before the 2014 congressional elections.

The enrollment period, previously scheduled to begin Oct. 15, 2014, will now start Nov. 15, said an official with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services who asked not to be identified because the decision isn’t public. The change is important to insurers that need more time to evaluate the first year of the government-run marketplaces.

Moving the filing deadline back a month gives insurers more time to assess the mix of consumers who enroll in plans in the first year they’re offered through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The young, healthy people needed to balance the cost of care for older consumers aren’t likely to sign up in large numbers until March, said Jonathan Gruber, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist who helped design the law.

What would this do?

The one-month delay revealed yesterday is just long enough so “consumers will not see their 2015 premiums until after the midterm elections, instead of immediately before,” said Mike Tuffin, a former insurance industry lobbyist who is now managing director of consulting firm APCO Worldwide’s Washington office. “One doesn’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to divine the motive here.”

Either way, this could be a boon for Republicans. Democrats are probably counting on it possibly being easier to blow off Republican campaign rhetoric about the cynicism of pushing off the enrollment period off for a month till after election day versus lots of news stories of people seeing their premiums rise further. Especially those who are being dumped by their companies or being turned into part time workers so the company doesn’t have to provide insurance. This is similar to the way they pushed off the employer mandate (illegally) till 2015.

National Journal’s Sam Baker notes that all this is a bomb waiting to happen before the mid-terms. The question is, can Republicans take advantage of this?

Crossed at Pirate’s Cove. Follow me on Twitter @WilliamTeach.

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