H/t: TW – who writes, this change should help a lot of people and diffuse much of the GOP’s anti-ACA talking points (‘bitching points’).
The Obama administration announced Thursday that it will allow individuals whose health care policies were canceled under the Affordable Care Act’s new rules to qualify for a hardship exemption, meaning they are not required to purchase a plan under the new law.
In a letter to six Democratic senators who had requested the change, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that those who had their plans canceled under the law are now eligible for “catastrophic,” or bare-bones plans. As The Hill notes, those plans were previously intended for individuals under age 30 and others who qualify for a hardship exemption.
“I agree with you that these consumers should qualify for this temporary hardship exemption and I can assure you that the exemption will be available to them,”Sebelius wrote in the letter. “As a result, in addition to their existing options these individuals will also be able to buy a catastrophic plan to smooth their transition to coverage through the Marketplace.”
The letter was sent to Democratic Sens. Mark Warner (Va.), Tim Kaine (Va.), Angus King (Maine), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Mary Landrieu (La.) and Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.).
“This is a common-sense clarification of the law. For the limited number of consumers whose plans have been cancelled and are seeking coverage, this is one more option,” Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Joanne Peters said of the exemption.
The announcement comes just four days ahead of the December 23 deadline by which individuals must select a plan to ensure no lapse in coverage.
Earlier Thursday, the administration projected fewer than 500,000 individuals whose plans had been canceled would enter 2014 without coverage.
The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein reported:
The officials at the briefing said that it was impossible to know the exact number impacted. But, they argued, the group was smaller than what has been reported because many of these individuals were being auto-enrolled into new plans.All told, the officials projected that fewer than 500,000 people would enter the New Year having had their insurance policy cancelled and not purchased a new plan.
The goal is to reduce that number as much as possible. And to encourage sign-ups after the New Year, the White House is planning a more aggressive public relations campaign. The docket includes cabinet-level visits to targeted districts, more community outreach through administration allies (churches, races and farmer markets were listed as venues where the ACA would be pitched) and paid media.