Politics & Government

Government extends healthcare deadline as record numbers sign up, Obama says

FILE - In this Oct. 24, 2016 file photo, the HealthCare.gov 2017 web site home page is seen on a laptop in Washington. President-elect Donald Trump has said he may keep some parts of his predecessor's signature health care overhaul. No final decisions have been made.
FILE - In this Oct. 24, 2016 file photo, the HealthCare.gov 2017 web site home page is seen on a laptop in Washington. President-elect Donald Trump has said he may keep some parts of his predecessor's signature health care overhaul. No final decisions have been made. AP

The federal government Friday extended the deadline to get health insurance that starts on Jan. 1, citing “extraordinary demand” on the Healthcare.gov website.

Dec. 19 is the new deadline to sign up for coverage that begins Jan. 1. The old deadline was Dec. 15.

The marketplace is one of the tenets of the Affordable Care Act, one of President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievements during his eight years in office. Obama said Thursday was “the biggest day ever” for people signing up through the website.

President-elect Donald Trump campaigned on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act — often called Obamacare.

In his first interview after the election with “60 Minutes,” Trump seemed to soften his stance, acknowledging there are parts of the law that he likes, such as allowing patients with preexisting conditions to keep coverage and allowing young adults to remain on their parents’ insurance plans until age 26.

At a rally on Friday, Trump said his administration would repeal Obamacare and have “all sorts of reforms that work for you and your family.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made it clear that Republicans in Congress will repeal Obamacare quickly. House Republicans have voted more than 60 times to repeal the law.

“The Obamacare repeal resolution will be the first item up in the new year,” McConnell said, though actual implementation of the repeal could take years.

What is less clear is what will happen to the 20 million people who have gained health insurance coverage through some feature of the law — expanded Medicaid in some states, the provision allowing children to remain on their parents’ plans and through the marketplace where many receive subsidies to offset premiums.

The signups are a good sign that the marketplace is not collapsing as some had predicted, Larry Levitt, the senior vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, tweeted on Thursday.

On the day after the election, with the same uncertainty about what might happen to the law, there was a surge of people shopping for and selecting plans on Healthcare.gov, according to the Sylvia Burwell, the secretary of Department of Health and Human Services.

  Comments