WASHINGTON — The White House has announced it’s working on a plan to help those people transition to Obamacare.
The move comes amid harsh new criticism over the technical problems associated with the roll-out of HealthCare.gov and the revelation that thousands of Americans are losing policies they thought they’d be able to keep.
During a Senate hearing Tuesday focusing on the problems Maryland Senator Barbara Miklulski joined in the criticism.
“I believe there has been a crisis of confidence created in the dysfunctional nature of the website, cancellation of policies and sticker shock for some people,” Mikulski said.
But Centers for Medicare and Medicaid administrator Marilyn Tavenner, the sole witness at the hearing, pushed back.
“Do you think you are going to restore confidence in this plan?” Mikulski asked.
“Yes,” Tavenner answered. “I would encourage folks, if they have not gone onto the website in the last few days, to go onto the website.”
CMS says the site is being repaired and will work far better for most people by the end of November. Tavenner says this will be plenty of time for people to enroll if they want coverage on the first day possible, Jan. 1, 2014. “We have always believed that the first enrollment surge would come mid-December,” she said.
She said CMS expects a second surge of late enrollees in February and March. People who do not already have health insurance have until March 31 to sign up for coverage, either on the new exchanges, in some other form of private health insurance, or Medicare, Medicaid or another government program.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts, said her state’s experience supports this. Massachusetts set up its own health insurance exchange in 2006. “What we learned in Massachusetts is when it comes to enrolling in health care, many of us wait until the end to get it done,” she said.