The Obama administration plans to delay the start of next year's ObamaCare enrollment period, a move pitched as a way to give consumers and insurance companies more time to study their options -- but which also conveniently pushes the second round of enrollment past the 2014 midterm elections.
A Department of Health and Human Services official confirmed the change to Fox News. The decision does not affect those trying to enroll this year, despite the myriad problems with the launch of the law and HealthCare.gov. Rather, it affects those who will sign up late next year for 2015 coverage.
The administration will allow consumers to start signing up on Nov. 15, 2014, as opposed to Oct. 15. Enrollment will last until Jan. 15, 2015, instead of Dec. 7.
An HHS official told Fox News the move will give insurers "the benefit of more time to evaluate their experiences during the 2014 plan year" and let them take into account late-filing customers when setting their 2015 rates.
The official added: "This change is good news for consumers, who will have more time to learn about plans before enrolling and an open enrollment period that's a week longer."
The administration so far has rebuffed calls to delay or extend the current enrollment period beyond March 31, 2014, even as HHS scrambles to repair the flawed HealthCare.gov site and some states struggle with their own exchanges.
But by pushing off next year's enrollment period, the administration conveniently pushes off the possibility of any ObamaCare hiccups until after the midterm elections. Some of the biggest critics of the current rollout have been Democrats up for reelection next year.
Obama recently tried to address some of their concerns by allowing states and insurance companies to re-offer cancelled insurance policies -- a trend which has become a major headache for the administration. Many states, though, are refusing to make any changes to the way they handle those plans.
HHS argued that the delay next year will give consumers more time to educate themselves about the plans, though it would not affect coverage this year.