On Valentine’s Day, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor used the occasion to advocate that the best present to give a loved one was to make sure they signed up for the Affordable Care Act, since the the deadline for enrollment expired Sunday night. “If you were to ask me what would be the best Valentine that you could give to your loved one, I would tell you today to get them signed up,” the mayor said Saturday.
Federal officials reported a final surge over the weekend, with more than 60,000 people using HealthCare.gov at times on Sunday, according to this morning’s New York Times.
That same story reports that a host of Democratic senators want to extend the sign-up period. There are a variety of reasons, one being the controversial individual mandate is no longer just something to argue about but a reality, something anyone who filed a tax return via TurboTax this winter realizes. You now pay a fine if you don’t have health care insurance in the United States.
No doubt if the White House were to extend the deadline, they’d be bashed by the people who think everything about the ACA is reprehensible, and another outright lie from the administration about the program, with its huge PR nightmare 18 months ago when signups initially began as people learned they wouldn’t necessarily get to keep doctors that they had for years. (“If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan” was named PolitiFact’s lie of the year for 2013, after all).
Deadlines are important to establish because some people will never commit to anything without them. But if the overall goal is to get as many people signed for health care, why wouldn’t you extend it?
Sure, there’s self-interest and cynicism involved. As the paper reports, with the U.S. Supreme Court poised to rule on the law soon, “providing extra time for enrollment would increase the number of people who received health insurance subsidies and thus had a personal stake in a Supreme Court case challenging payment of the subsidies in more than 30 states.”
No doubt. It would be “political” and controversial.
In other news …
While you were enjoying your Valentine’s Day on Saturday, this reporter trekked down to Sarasota, where Rand Paul make an early campaign visit in Jeb Bush and Marco’s Rubio‘s home state. The senator from Kentucky took indirect shots at Rubio’s foreign policy moves, but directly blasted Hillary Clinton‘s work as U.S. Secretary of State.