March 20,2015

Press Contact:

Aaron Fobes, Julia Lawless (202) 224-4515

Five Years Later: Administration Unilaterally Altering Obamacare’s Flaws

WASHINGTON – In advance of the fifth anniversary of the President’s health law, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) today released a fact sheet outlining how the Administration has made unilateral changes to delay, extend, or modify the law whenever it chose while denying Congress the opportunity to weigh in on fatal flaws of Obamacare. 

From confusing businesses and American workers by twice delaying the job-killing employer mandate, to having to implement a transition clause so the promise that “If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan” could ring true, to numerous other exemptions and special enrollment periods, the Administration has repeatedly had to amend their own law in order to avoid adverse fallout from patients and businesses – all at the expense of hardworking American taxpayers.

Here’s a look at the most consequential unilateral changes the Administration has made in attempt to salvage their own flawed law according to the non-partisan Congressional Research Service:

October 2013 – CMS announces hardship exemption from individual mandate penalties for persons who waited until after February 15, 2014, to enroll in a qualified health plan.

July 2013 – HHS issues rule on health insurance exchange eligibility including two, one-year delays on verification of applicant information.  Under the rule, state-based exchanges are not required audits of individuals who report income at least 10% below IRS and SSA records while also relieving states of having to verify applicants’ information on employer coverage.

November 2013 – After patients begin to receive cancellation notices because their plans do not comply with Obamacare’s mandates, the Administration institutes transition policy that encourages insurers sending cancellation notices to renew noncompliant health plans for a policy year. 

November/December 2013 – Due to problems with, HHS extends the deadline to sign up for coverage beginning January 1, 2014.

February 2013 – In order to allow service providers more time to comply with Obamacare’s annual cost-sharing limits, the Administration announces one-year grace period for service providers to apply cost-sharing limits to their benefits.

February 2013 – HHS announces delay of Basic Health Program (BHO) implementation by one year until 2015.

July 2013 – HHS delays final rule on health insurance exchange eligibly that requires state Medicaid agencies provide electronic notices to beneficiaries until 2015.

July 2013 – IRS delays the employer mandate until 2015.

February 2014 – IRS delays the employer mandate until 2016.

February 2014 – CMS allows state-based exchanges to issue advance payments of the premium tax credit and cost-sharing reductions on a retroactive basis for individuals who we not able to enroll on the exchange due to technical issues.  CMS later clarified their guidance.

March 2014 – HHS announces a one-month extension period for individuals enrolled in a pre-existing condition insurance plan (PCIP) who have not found new insurance on the exchange.

March 2014 – CMS extends transition policy for two years so that patients can keep plans that are not compliant with Obamacare mandates.

March 2014 – A special enrollment period (SEP) – is established to give individuals “in line” to enroll on the federal exchange extra time.  The hardship exemption was also made available to treat those “in line” as though they were covered by the March 31 deadline.

January 2015 – IRS announces that it will waive two penalties that apply to underpayments of taxes for those who have an amount due on their 2014 income tax return.

February 2015 – CMS announces a one-week SEP after the 2015 open enrollment season concludes.  HHS adds even more SEPs later in the month.

February 2015 – In order to allow persons who were not aware of the individual mandate penalty relief, CMS announces a SEP for individuals and families living in states with a federal exchange who went without coverage in 2014 and were subject to the individual mandate penalty when they filed their 2014 taxes.

February 2015 – IRS instates transition relief to employers with fewer than 50 full time employees regarding health reimbursement arrangements (HRA’s).  Under Obamacare, employers offering group health plans that reimburse medical expenses were subject to a penalty.  The transition was extended so that such employers will not be asses the penalty until July 1, 2015.