GRAHAM-CASSIDY REPEAL BILL DEADLINE:

Time: D H M S

UPDATE: THAT was...unexpected: Trump CMS allowing "In Line By Midnight" overtime period after all?

IMPORTANT UPDATE:

I've received confirmation from CMS that this "in line by midnight" grace period ONLY applies to those who CALL THE FEDERAL EXCHANGE at 1-800-318-2596​ and LEAVE THEIR CONTACT INFORMATION.

In other words, it does NOT appear to apply to those who are using the website application/enrollment process only; you have to CALL HC.gov and leave your number to qualify.

Every Open Enrollment Period to date, most of the ACA exchanges have ended up offering some sort of deadline extension and/or "in line by midnight" overtime grace period to allow people who started the enrollment process by the deadline additional time to wrap up their paperwork and complete the process.

Each year, this overtime period has shrunk:

  • In 2014 it was a full 15 day “in line by midnight” period for most states, that lasted as long as two full months for Nevada, due to the massive technical problems most of the exchange websites had.
  • In 2015 it was a single week grace period for most states, plus an additional 6-week Special Enrollment Period tacked on specifically for people who didn't realize that they had to pay the individual mandate penalty for not being covered, although a couple of state exchanges didn't participate in the SEP.
  • In 2016, it was just one day, and a few state exchanges didn't even allow that.

In other words, the "overtime" periods have been tapering off each year, and while I'd normally be mildly surprised to see HealthCare.Gov allow one this year, it normally wouldn't be that surprising.

That is, it wouldn't be if Hillary Clinton had taken office as President.

Instead, with Donald Trump as President and he and the GOP going hog wild trying to do everything possible to sabotage the law, I wasn't expecting the HHS Dept. to allow any sort of "overtime" or "grace period" this time around. I figured they would pull the plug on Open Enrollment at precisely midnight tonight.

Which is why this story from Dan Mangan of CNBC really caught me by surprise:

Big demand for Obamacare as deadline nears; HealthCare.gov customers get breathing room

They're hurrying up — and waiting — to enroll in Obamacare. And many of them now will get some extra time to finish.

Customers scrambling to sign up in insurance plans sold through the federal Obamacare exchange by Tuesday night's enrollment deadline slowed down service on that marketplace's website during the day Tuesday.

Many customers were being asked to remain in an online "waiting room" on HealthCare.gov, which serves residents of 39 states, until their application could be processed.

Because of the wait times, the Trump administration, according to a source late Tuesday afternoon, will allow HealthCare.gov customers already in line a grace period in coming days to complete their application on that exchange.

A spokesman for the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said earlier Tuesday that the deadline for signing up on HealthCare.gov remains midnight Tuesday, Pacific Standard Time. But people who start their enrollment Tuesday, or who are on line to do so, will get extra time to complete the process.

Huh.

Seriously, this is really, really interesting.

First he issues an executive order specifically instructing the HHS Dept. (and other agencies which are involved in ACA enrollment matters, such as the IRS, SSI, INS, etc) to do everything in their power to bog down, suppress and otherwise sabotage the effectiveness of the law's implementation.

Then he tells the HHS Dept. to kill off any and all last-minute advertising, outreach, reminders and notifications.

Then, less than 24 hours later, the ad/outreach policy is (mostly) reversed, with email and phone reminders popping up all over the place as normal.

And now...this.

I haven't a clue what's going on here, but for the moment, I'll take it.

The only thing which I'm a little uneasy about here is the lack of specifics about just how long the "grace period" will actually be. Minnesota, California and Colorado included hard end dates for each of theirs (2/08 for MN, 2/04 for CA, 2/03 for CO), whereas Mangan's story about HC.gov simply says "...a grace period in the coming days", which is pretty vague.

IMPORTANT UPDATE:

I've received confirmation from CMS that this "in line by midnight" grace period ONLY applies to those who CALL THE FEDERAL EXCHANGE at 1-800-318-2596​ and LEAVE THEIR CONTACT INFORMATION.

In other words, it does NOT appear to apply to those who are using the website application/enrollment process only; you have to CALL HC.gov and leave your number to qualify.

This is apparently the exact same arrangement they had last year, but given the unusual circumstances of the enrollment period this time around, this is an important caveat.