Breaking: HHS Finds Obamacare Provision It Doesn’t “Have the Authority” To Delay

March 12th, 2014

Today is a red-letter day. Dare I say, it is Unprecedented. Julie Bataille, lead Obamacare spokesperson, has stated emphatically, on the record, that the government lacks the authority to delay the enrollment deadline to sign up for Obamacare.

On a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services spokeswoman Julie Bataille said even if officials wanted to, her agency didn’t have the authority to delay the enrollment deadline.

“We have no plans to extend the open enrollment period,” Bataille said. “In fact, we don’t actually have the statutory authority to extend the open enrollment period in 2014.”

Could it be? Has the separation of powers finally caught up with HHS? Can’t they tweet, or blog or something, about how uncertainty in the marketplace necessitates a longer period to enroll, and a need to delay the mandate? They’re just not being creative enough.

Secretary Sebelius also said, flatly, that there are no plans to delay the mandate.

Given problems caused by ObamaCare’s faulty website last year, Brady asked Sebelius directly if delays to the individual mandate or enrollment deadline were next.

“No sir,” Sebelius responded on both counts. …

“I haven’t seen their statements but there is no delay beyond March 31,” she said.

But this is only half-true. The mandate won’t be delayed, but just about anyone can request a delay. As I reported yesterday, HHS has extended a hardship waiver to Obamacare’s mandate for two more years. So effectively, anyone who can’t afford a new policy, or had their old policy cancelled, can seek an exemption (at Sebelius’s discretion) to pay the penalty.