ACA Penalties Delayed 6 Weeks Amidst Hearings on Rollout

As lawmakers held a hearing on the technical issues plaguing the federal insurance exchange, the Obama administration decided to delay penalties for being uninsured for six weeks.

The rollout of Healthcare.gov had so many issues that Washington held a hearing on Thursday about the glitches. The federal contractors told House lawmakers that they didn’t know when the average American would be able to go to the site and get in.

The contractors said that full tests of the website began two weeks before the rollout despite the fact that the Affordable Care Act was passed as law in 2010 and the Supreme Court ruled to uphold the law more than a year ago. The tests were delayed until so close to the launch date because of changes to the order functions would be accessible by visitors to the website, Modern Healthcare reported.

One executive testified that her company did not make the decision for the site to go live, ultimately the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid was responsible for the end-to-end performance.

Becker’s Hospital Review reported that Julie Bataille, director of the CMS office of communications, said that the compressed time frame resulted in the system not being tested enough before Oct. 1. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is still expected to testify about the technical glitches during the ACA’s rollout.

So far, 700,000 people have completed applications for health insurance coverage through the ACA, according to Kaiser Health News. There was no distinction of how many people applied through Healthcare.gov compared to the state-run exchanges. However, completing the application simply determines if the user is eligible for a federal subsidy or for Medicaid. The application is a key step before people can even begin shopping for insurance plans.

As a result of the glitches and technical problems, the Obama administration has announced that it is delaying penalties for being uninsured by six weeks. Now, the last date that consumers can enroll without facing a fine is March 31. According to Becker’s Hospital Review, people have to enroll by Feb. 15 to allow time for processing.