Before the Obama administration did what they said they wouldn’t — extend the Obamacare deadline for some — a Democratic congressman was already working on it.
Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) had no official advance knowledge of the White House’s plans when he introduced a measure on March 12 to give states the option to extend open enrollment by one month. But “the Congressman is very good at seeing the writing on the wall,” his spokesman said.
Coincidentally, Schrader filed his bill the same day Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testified on Capitol Hill that, “there is no delay beyond March 31st.” Of course, that wasn’t the first, or last, time she made that claim. And, as our colleagues over at Wonkblog explain, the administration is adamant that it’s not so much an extension as an accommodation.
Still, Schrader commended President Obama on Wednesday for extending the deadline for those who have struggled to enroll — Oregon’s state-based Web site has been particularly disastrous — and sympathized with what “the poor guy has to deal with.”
Yet Schrader told the Loop that the two-week extension feels a bit like an arbitrary time frame chosen as part of a political balancing act. The administration is “over thinking it a bit…and the parameters are overly confusing,” he said. “I think my bill to extend the enrollment period makes more sense, but the [extension] is certainly on the right track.”
If the ultimate goal is to get people signed up and to provide health care for the most Americans, they should simply extend the enrollment “one bloody month,” Schrader said.
UPDATED: Turns out Schrader’s state is getting it’s extra month grace period. The federal government is allowing Oregon an additional 30 days beyond March 31 to sign people up through its state exchange, according to The Oregonian.
Schrader, who is running for reelection and is expected to hold his seat, according to political forecasters, voted for the Affordable Care Act and stands by its merits, but, like many Democrats, decries the rollout as a “horrendous failure.”