Trump officials decline to extend ObamaCare sign-up deadline
by Peter Sullivan December 16, 2017
The Trump administration declined to extend the ObamaCare sign-up period amid the last-minute surge of enrollees, a break with the precedent set under the Obama administration.
The enrollment period ended Friday at midnight. The Obama administration in previous years consistently extended the deadline for a few days to accommodate the high number of enrollees who wait until the last minute to enroll.
However, the Trump administration this year declined to give such an extension.
Officials declined to say whether there would be an extension for most of the day on Friday, but on Friday night the official healthcare.gov Twitter account wrote that there would not be.
For people who called the call center before the deadline and could not get through, though, there is a grace period where a representative will call them back after the deadline and they can still enroll, a practice consistent with that of the Obama administration.
Congressional Democrats had pushed for an extension of the deadline, not just for a few days but all the way to Jan. 31, which would put the sign-up period at the same length as previous years.
The period was about half as long this year, and the Trump administration cut back on outreach funding, part of the reason that experts expect fewer sign-ups this year. The final number is not yet available.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which oversees ObamaCare, said that there was an uptick in applicants near the deadline, as in previous years, but that the website worked well and an online waiting room did not need to be deployed.
“Our team worked day-and-night to help consumers have a seamless open enrollment experience,” a CMS spokesperson said. “Despite the increase in volume, both HealthCare.gov and call center operated optimally and consumers were able to easily access enrollment tools to compare plans and prices.”