The Obama administration will announce on Wednesday that individuals who had experienced difficulty signing up for the Affordable Care Act will still be able to enroll in insurance after the March 31st deadline and obtain coverage until mid-April. The move, the latest in a series of administration efforts to simply the enrollment process following a rocky rollout, echoes the Bush administration’s 2006 decision to help seniors enlist in Medicare Part D after the official enrollment deadline.
In May of 2006, just days before the end of open enrollment, President Bush took administrative action towaive “penalty fees for very low-income seniors and people with disabilities who sign up late” and allowed “the same impoverished beneficiaries to sign up for Medicare drug coverage until Dec. 31.”
“In other words, you can apply after May 15th without penalty,” Bush told seniors during an event in Florida. “And that’s important for low-income seniors to understand.”
Like Obamacare, the launch of President George W. Bush’s prescription benefit plan was hampered by technical glitches, setbacks, and mass confusion. As the May 15 deadline for enrollment loomed, a bipartisan group of lawmakers advocacy organizations, and a surprising number of newspaper editorials, urged the administration to extend the enrollment period and protect seniors from the penalties associated with late enrollment.
“In the months leading up to the initiation of the Medicare Part D program, beneficiaries were inundated with information about coverage options, which often caused confusion and frustration among seniors,” former Rep. Jason Altmire (D-PA), who introduced legislation to extend the deadline, said. “It is only fair to provide beneficiaries with the time necessary to properly choose an appropriate plan.” The bill attracted bipartisan support and companion legislation was introduced in the Senate.