The administration late on Tuesday granted an extension until
mid-April to people who say they have started to apply for coverage
through the HealthCare.gov website but are unable to complete the
process before the deadline.
"We expect there to be increasing numbers as the deadline
approaches," White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
The administration expects criticism of the extension "by those who
want to deny Americans quality, affordable health insurance, and
want to put insurance companies back in control," he told reporters
traveling with the president to Europe. "But we'll take that as it
Critics of the 2010 healthcare law, best known by its nickname of
Obamacare, and of President Barack Obama's management of it, were
scathing in their comments about the delay, the latest in a series
of extensions due mostly to the complexity of complying with the
"What the hell is this? A joke?" House of Representatives Speaker
John Boehner asked at a news conference. Boehner faulted the
administration for arbitrarily changing the rules of the law in
Carney said allowing people to complete their applications past the
deadline was not an unheard-of accommodation.
"The only thing that has changed is that those individuals who have
begun the process of applying online by the deadline, which remains
March 31st, will be able to ensure that they can complete the
process," he said. "If you're in line before the polls close, you
get to vote."
[to top of second column]
HealthCare.gov was overwhelmed by technical glitches for much of
last October and November, the first two months of Obamacare's
six-month enrollment period. Most of those bugs have been worked out
and as of March 17 more than 5 million people had signed up for
private coverage through the federal site and 14 state-run
Still, polls show overall attitudes toward the law are negative.
Republicans, who have steadfastly opposed Obamacare and sought to
block it or weaken it, expect to take advantage of its unpopularity
as they try to regain control of the Senate from Democrats in
(Reporting by Mark Felsenthal, Jeff Mason aboard Air Force One and
Steve Holland in Brussels; editing by Ken Wills)
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