The White House is cutting off some Republican ACA criticism at the knees by softening the deadline for the purchase of health insurance.
The Obama administration didn’t delay the individual mandate or extend the enrollment period, but they did fix an overlap in the deadlines.
Under federal regulations, anyone who has a gap in coverage three months or longer has to pay a tax penalty. If you go without coverage for one month, the federal government gives you a pass. But if you are uncovered for at least one day in three separate months — January, February and March, for example — the federal government will fine you.
This created a bit of a weird misalignment that tax firm Jackson Hewitt noticed in mid-October.
It seemed possible, it’s vice president Brian Haile noted, for someone to buy insurance coverage near the end of open enrollment — sometime in March, for example — and have a policy that did not start until April 1. And that could lead to some people purchasing a plan during open enrollment — but still paying a tax penalty for spending January, February and March without coverage.
The deadlines for open enrollment and the individual mandate are the same, but the president swooped in changed the discussion the night before House Republicans misuse their investigative powers for the partisan political purpose of misinforming about the ACA.
On the night before House Republicans are about to launch another misinformation campaign disguised as hearings, President Obama fixed the problem. This evening’s news means that the House hearing tomorrow will now be filled with grandstanding tea partiers who will waste time calling President Obama a dictator while suggesting that he is violating the law by changing this deadline.
Obama has just provoked the mentally ill House Republicans into barking at the moon during their next publicity stunt that is designed to convince the uninsured that they don’t really want to be able to go see a doctor when they get sick.
The White House could have announced this change at any time, but they did it tonight because House Republicans won’t be able to resist taking the bait. Rep. Darrell Issa will railing on against presidential overreach as Republicans try to create whispers about impeachment.
What Republicans haven’t figured out yet is that the crazier they get about Obamacare, the more the American people like the law. Every time Republicans hold hearings, shut down the government, or unleash their ACA hate, they help to make the law more popular.
President Obama baited the trap tonight. He is betting the House Republicans will flip their lids, embarrass themselves, and by the end of the day tomorrow make the ACA more popular after their latest round of attacks.
The president knows how to pull their strings, and House Republicans can’t resist the impulse to do their dance of self destruction.
President Obama owns the House Republicans, and he displayed his mastery with a clever chess move tonight.