Amid concerns that the significant problems with the federal ObamaCare exchange will prevent people from obtaining health insurance coverage before the open enrollment period ends, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) has asked President Barack Obama to extend the open enrollment period past the March 31, 2014 deadline and delay the individual mandate.
“Given the existing problems with the website, I urge you to consider extending open enrollment beyond the current end date of March 31, 2014,” wrote Sheehen the letter to President Obama, which was first obtained by Politico. “Allowing extra time for consumers is critically important so they have the opportunity to become familiar with the website, survey their options and enroll.”
Unlike the effective date of the employer mandate, the dates of the open enrollment period were not set by statute. “The [HHS] Secretary shall require an initial open enrollment, as determined by the Secretary (such determination to be made not later than July 1, 2012),” reads the Affordable Care Act as passed by Congress (Public Law 111-148, §124 Stat. 175).
So there is statutory authority, per se, to set the enrollment period. The law also gives the HHS secretary the ability to set dates for future enrollment years. But insurance companies have open enrollment periods for a reason — to prevent people from signing up for or changing their coverage when they get sick after the enrollment period has passed.