The Obama administration, taking heat from the public for the failed Obamacare rollout, is now taking a step backward to ease the way for consumers to avoid the government-run exchanges and purchase health coverage directly through big insurers. On Monday, White House press secretary Jay Carney allowed, “We have to make sure that there are other means available for the American people, even as we make improvements to the website … it’s something that we’ve talked about and are working on.”
The federal subsidies offered to consumers to help them pay their premiums have been accessible only through the government website, and that route has been problematic. Thus the administration wants to offer encouragement for consumers to find a way around it.
Cliff Gold, chief operating officer at CoOportunity Health, said the new plan “undermines the very essence of the [health law] and would not be in the interest of the consumer. In the rush to get people enrolled, we hope that mistakes won’t be made that will reinforce the existing insurance model.”
The big insurers have their own concerns; they want to ensure that whatever yardstick is used to measure enrollees’ eligibility for tax credits must be accurate and binding.
Julie Bataille, spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, was enthusiastic about the new emphasis, saying, “If you’ll remember what the goal is of this program, it’s really to get as many people through the system and to eventual enrollment as possible.”