The White House delayed another Obamacare deadline late Tuesday, pushing back by more than a month when those with pre-existing conditions must enroll in new health plans.
The administration had already delayed the Pre-Existing Conditions Insurance Plan (PCIP), which was designed to help those with serious medical conditions transition to Obamacare coverage.
Department of Health and Human Services officials, though, said they needed more time to make sure those patients received insurance coverage, pushing the expected Jan. 31 deadline back to March 15.
“As part of our continuing effort to help smooth consumers’ transition into marketplace coverage, we are allowing those covered by PCIP additional time to shop for new coverage while they receive the ongoing care and treatment they need,” said HHS spokeswoman Joanne Peters.
The latest extension comes after a series of executive-branch delays of core components of the Affordable Care Act.
The administration has already delayed until 2015 the employer mandate and the cap on out-of-pocket medical expenses. The White House also recently pushed back the deadline for when consumers had to pay their first month’s premium and exempted those with canceled health plans from the individual mandate this year.
Republicans say the delays proved President Obama's signature domestic achievement wasn't ready for prime time. The White House counters that they are giving consumers more flexibility to ensure the viability of the most sweeping overhaul to the health care system since Medicare.
The administration said the latest extension would be paid for with unused funds already slated for the program. Officials estimate that roughly 135,000 people have used the PCIP program.