On Thursday, the Obama administration announced that it was encouraging insurance companies to voluntarily delay deadlines for obtaining coverage under the Affordable Care Act by allowing individuals who have struggled to enroll through HealthCare.gov to do so retroactively even if they miss the Dec. 23 deadline for Jan. 1 coverage. Issuers will also be asked to backdate coverage for consumers who miss the Dec. 31 deadline to pay for insurance and the government may “consider further extending the deadline for January coverage” beyond Dec. 23.
While it’s unclear if insurers will comply with the administration’s requests, the news elicited a particularly strange reaction from one Republican Congressman. Appearing on Fox News on Friday, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) announced that providing insurance companies greater flexibility to enroll more people in private coverage will lead to a single payer government takeover of health care:
LEE: I think that’s a problem. I think it is definitely a step in the direction of what we all feared which is, national, single payer, government-run, government health care system, the likes of which can be seen in other countries around the world, many parts of Europe. We’re not well-suited for this sort of experiment in America. It is not going to work here. This is a step in that direction.
Lee himself has repeatedly called on the administration to delay Obamacare — as part of a gambit to defund and ultimately repeal the law. “Ted and I and others are willing to fund even programs that we don’t like as a compromise gesture in order to avoid having to fund Obamacare, and as a condition for making it possible to defund Obamacare and thereby achieve a delay,” he told Fox News in September. “That’s what we want.”
Some of Lee’s colleagues are pushing for a national government-run health care system, but that would require significantly more reform than simply delaying some aspects of Obamacare. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), one of the most vocal proponents of universal health care back in 2010, introduced a bill on Monday that would require every state to implement a single-payer system.