Boehner Slams Obamacare Extension: Is This a Joke?

Image: Boehner Slams Obamacare Extension: Is This a Joke?

Wednesday, 26 Mar 2014 06:28 PM

By Todd Beamon

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Speaker John Boehner slammed the latest Obamacare extension on Wednesday — angrily asking, "What the hell is this? A joke?"

"Last night brought us yet another delay of Obamacare, another deadline made meaningless," the Ohio Republican said at his weekly news conference on Capitol Hill. "If he hasn't put enough loopholes into the law already, the administration is now resorting to an honor system to enforce it.

"This is part of a long term-pattern of this administration manipulating the laws for its own convenience," Boehner added. "And it's not hard to understand why the American people question this administration's commitment to the rule of law."

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The Department of Health and Human Services said on Wednesday that Americans who have been unable to obtain coverage under the Affordable Care Act via the HealthCare.gov website by the March 31 open-enrollment deadline would have until mid-April to do so.

The latest extension is expected to affect millions of Americans who have not been able to enroll in Obamacare through the troubled federal website. Any rush of enrollees before the deadline could prevent Americans from obtaining coverage in a timely manner.

"Open enrollment ends March 31," Alicia Hartinger, a spokeswoman for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told Newsmax in a statement.

"We are experiencing a surge in demand and are making sure that we will be ready to help consumers who may be in line by the deadline to complete enrollment — either online or over the phone."

HealthCare.gov has been plagued with technical glitches, and the site has been taken down numerous times for repairs. The site covers 36 states that do not have their own insurance exchanges.

Hartinger also noted that the extension was similar to what was done in December. The Obamacare individual mandate took effect on Oct. 1.

"Our systems will allow individuals with special circumstances and complex cases to receive help completing the enrollment process outside of open enrollment," she said.

"These opportunities already exist — and we will issue guidance that clarifies a limited number of situations where we would accommodate people with complex or extenuating circumstances."

Hartinger added that the Affordable Care Act "accounted for these circumstances, and these policies build on our existing operational processes to support consumers utilizing our online system and call center."

Since the December delay, however, the administration had insisted that the March deadline was firm. If Americans had not obtained coverage by then, they faced fines from the Internal Revenue Service.

For enrollees to qualify for the extension, they would have to check a blue box on HealthCare.gov — and the government will rely on an honor system rather than work to determine whether Americans are telling the truth.

Still, Republicans universally attacked the latest extension as further evidence that Obamacare was unworkable and should be scrapped.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell charged that Obamacare has "basically become the legal equivalent of Swiss cheese" because of so many extensions.

"They said it would create jobs," the Kentucky Republican said on the Senate floor. "They also said it would improve the economy, lower premiums, and insure the uninsured without causing Americans to lose their insurance, their doctors, or their hospitals.

"But now, Americans know better," McConnell said. "It's a law that's unravelling before our very eyes.

"If Washington Democrats think Obamacare is so bad that they need to exempt that many people from its mandates, then why shouldn't we just remove that hardship for everyone? Doesn't the middle class deserve a break, too?"

And Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn recalled how an HHS spokesman said that the White House lacked the authority to extend the open-enrollment deadline and that Secretary Kathleen Sebelius ruled out any further Obamacare delays in December.

"It is apparent from the contradictory remarks made by Secretary Sebelius that she either does not understand the how law is supposed to work or that she does not care," Blackburn said in a statement. "Are the bureaucrats at HHS really so inept that they cannot figure this out?"

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