By Melanie Batley
Republican lawmakers are blasting the Obama administration’s decision to exempt large numbers of people from having to buy insurance under Obamacare — a last-ditch attempt to help the millions of people who received insurance cancellation notices because of the new healthcare law.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius confirmed the changes in a letter to six Democratic senators Thursday, The Wall Street Journal reports. She said the government would permit those who could not find affordable new coverage to quality for a “hardship exemption” to avoid a penalty next year for not having insurance.
The administration also downplayed the change, saying the it is expected to affect fewer than 500,000 people.
Democrats have praised the announcement, but Republicans say it’s one more example of a healthcare program that is unworkable.
“We asked Secretary Sebelius point blank what would be the next holiday surprise, and she was silent. Yet, here we are with another major policy shift,” said Tennessee GOP Rep. Marsha Blackburn, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Fox reports. “The sad reality is that when the law takes effect come Jan. 1, more Americans will be without coverage under Obamacare than one year ago.”
“Less than two weeks from going live, the White House seems to be in full panic mode. Rather than more White House delays, waivers, and exemptions, the administration should provide all Americans relief from its failed law,” she added.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., called it a “slap in the face” to those already enrolled in Obamacare.
“Holding a fire sale of cheap insurance is not a responsible fix for a broken program. This is a slap in the face to the thousands of Americans who have already purchased expensive insurance through the Obamacare exchanges,” he said.
The insurance industry also reacted negatively to the news, saying the decision to allow people to sign up for “catastrophic” coverage plans would cause tremendous “instability.”
“This latest rule change could cause significant instability in the marketplace and lead to further confusion and disruption for consumers,” Karen Ignagni, head of America’s Health Insurance Plans, the industry trade group, told the Journal.
ObamaCare: You Can Win With The Facts
- Polls: 77 Percent of Uninsured Don’t Want Obamacare, Majority of Voters Want Repeal
- High Obamacare Costs Creating New Middle Class of Uninsured
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