White House officials repeatedly promised the latest Obamacare delay either could or would not happen in the past month.
The Washington Post reported Tuesday night that the Obama administration had "decided to give extra time to Americans who say that they are unable to enroll in health plans through the federal insurance marketplace by the March 31 deadline."
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Mediaite‘s Noah Rothman writes:
Beyond the craven expediency of this subversion of the letter of the law, the latest ACA delay exposes yet more mendacity from the administration. By checking a blue box on the ACA website, users will be able to avoid having the penalty associated with the individual mandate. That is, essentially, a delay in the individual mandate — something that administration officials insisted as recently as 10 days ago that they neither could nor would do.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testified under questioning from Rep. Kevin Brady (R., Texas) March 12 that the administration would not delay open enrollment beyond the deadline.
"There is no delay beyond March 31," she said.
"We have no plans to extend the open enrollment period," Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services spokeswoman Julie Bataille said in March during a conference call with reporters. "Open enrollment ends on March 31. And in fact, we don’t actually have the statutory authority to extend the open enrollment period in 2014."
White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer flatly told Meet The Press host David Gregory March 16 that a delay "will not happen."
"Can you rule out the idea that the president doesn't delay the individual mandate?" Gregory asked.
"Yes, I can," Pfeiffer replied. "That will not happen."
Saying one thing and doing another isn't new with the White House when it comes to Obamacare. As it became increasingly clear that the administration would fall short of its original 7-million enrollment goal by March 31, Sebelius and others developed sudden amnesia over ever considering that number their benchmark.
Now they've bought themselves even more time with another delay their own spokeswoman said they didn't have the statutory authority to do.