The Obama administration announced Wednesday it would allow consumers to keep health insurance plans that don't meet the standards of the new health care reform law for an extra two years, the latest of many delays and extensions that have hobbled the rollout of the politically divisive law.
Administration officials said they would delay implementation of the Affordable Care Act's guidelines that effectively outlaw cheap, "bare bones" insurance plans which offer minimal services, often with high deductibles, NBC News reports. Following a previous extension of the deadline for such insurance plans to end, the decision could delay the impact of one of the law's least popular provisions until after President Barack Obama leaves office. But it remains unclear how many plans the administration's decision will impact since state regulators have already moved to nix certain plans.
Obama was heavily criticized last year when insurance companies began canceling tens of thousands of such plans bought on the individual market for not meeting the standards of Obamacare. The president had previously promised that people who liked their plans could keep them. The administration announced in November a "fix" to allow consumers to keep existing plans that are not compliant with the new law until the end of 2014, so long as insurers and state regulators approved. This latest delay pushes that date back yet further, until the end of 2016.
The latest extension came on the same day the Republican-controlled House voted for the 50th time to repeal the Affordable Care Act, votes Senate Democrats steadfastly refuse to take up. Republicans condemned the administration's move as an attempt to push Obamacare deadlines past the 2016 presidential election.
“This reeks of politics," Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, said in a statement. "Instead of working with Congress to prevent Americans from losing the plans they like and can afford, the president is unilaterally re-writing laws around the election calendar. You have to wonder if he’s more interested in keeping his promise or keeping seats in the Senate.”
The Obama administration has delayed or extended many of the law's deadlines and requirements since the botched Oct. 1 lauch of online marketplaces to buy health insurances. Americans now have until March 31 to sign up for health insurance or face a fine.