KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Sen. Rubio Readies Bill To Delay Insurance Mandate Penalty

Sen. Marco Rubio is proposing a bill that would delay imposing penalties on people who don't have health insurance until six months after the Government Accountability Office has certified the federal website is functional. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a New Hampshire Democrat, is calling on President Obama to extended open enrollment beyond March 31, 2014 and to waive penalties for those who are unable to sign up because of technical problems.

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Rubio Introducing Bill To Delay Health Care Penalty Amid Sign-Up Difficulties
Sen. Marco Rubio says he'll introduce legislation to delay the penalty that can be assessed on individuals who don't buy insurance under the government's new health care law. The Florida Republican says people should not be punished for not buying the insurance when major technical problems have plagued the online sign-up process. Uninsured Americans have until about mid-February to sign up for coverage if they are to meet the law's requirement that they be insured by the end of March. If they don't, they will face a penalty (10/22).

Politico: Marco Rubio Bill Would Delay Obamacare 
Rubio also hit the Obama administration for a lack of transparency on Obamacare, saying the White House is withholding information so people won't see the "ugly things" of the law (McCalmont, 10/22).

CBS News: Marco Rubio: Postponing Obamacare Mandate A "Prudent Approach"
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., says he will introduce a bill to postpone the Affordable Care Act individual insurance mandate until is fixed. He called effort to postpone the Obamacare measure a "prudent approach." On "CBS This Morning," he said, "It's unfair to punish people for not purchasing a product that they can't purchase right now because of the technology that's in place, the website they're supposed to buy it on -- by the president's own admission -- is not working (Cochran. 10/22).

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: Democratic Senator Suggests Extending Health Deadlines
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat from New Hampshire, on Tuesday told the White House that individuals shouldn't face penalties for failing to buy health insurance if technical problems with the new federal health-care website prevent them from signing up for an insurance plan (Hughes, 10/22).

CNN: Democratic Senator Asks Obama To Delay Obamacare Deadline 
New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen joins the growing ranks of Republicans asking the President to extend open enrollment under Obamacare. The only difference is that she is a Democrat. "As website glitches persist, we are losing valuable time to educate and enroll people in insurance plans," writes Shaheen. "I also fear that people that have tried, and failed, to enroll online may become frustrated and not return to the website to try again at a later date. ... Allowing extra time for consumers is critically important so they have the opportunity to become familiar with the website, survey their options and enroll” (Finnegan, 10/22).

Politico: Shaheen Calls For Open Enrollment Extension
Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is calling on the White House to extend Obamacare's open enrollment period amid continued frustration with the troubled "The difficulty that people in New Hampshire and in other states that are relying on the federally facilitated marketplaces are experiencing is incredibly frustrating and disappointing," Shaheen wrote in a letter to President Barack Obama. "For over three years, we have been waiting for the creation of the health insurance exchanges, which now in their fourth week of existence, are riddled with problems." She is also asking the administration to clarify whether Americans will get fined for not getting insurance when the site is not working properly (Haberkorn, 10/22).

In other Capitol Hill news --

Politico: Hill Staffers A Potential Boon For DC Exchange
District of Columbia insurance officials who have long worried about how many people would sign up for health coverage get a surprise bonus next month: a slew of Congress members and staffers. Three weeks from now, about 15,000 Hill aides and their bosses will be eligible to sign up through the small-business or SHOP exchange offered by the D.C. Health Link. Not all will enroll — some are on a spouse's plan or have Medicare. But those who do will most likely be disproportionately young and healthy, reflecting the Capitol Hill workforce — exactly the kind of customers the insurance pool wants and needs (Cunningham, 10/23).

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