1. The individual mandate includes a "hardship exemption." People who qualify can either ignore the individual mandate altogether or purchase a cheap, bare-bones catastrophic insurance plan that's typically only available to people under 30.Obamacare is an "unexpected" human caused event. (insert bewildered cartoon sound effect here)
2. According to HHS, the exemption covers people who "experienced financial or domestic circumstances, including an unexpected natural or human-caused event, such that he or she had a significant, unexpected increase in essential expenses that prevented him or her from obtaining coverage under a qualified health plan."
3. Today, the administration agreed with a group of senators, led by Mark Warner of Virginia, who argued that having your insurance plan canceled counted as "an unexpected natural or human-caused event." For these people, in other words, Obamacare itself is the hardship. You can read HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius' full letter here. HHS's formal guidance is here.
I want a hardship exemption *and* a waiver. Is that too much to ask?
— Mickey Kaus (@kausmickey) December 20, 2013
This latest change comes on top of other changes the Obama administration has announced, changes to the law, without congressional approval.
Obama has responded with a flurry of last-minute policy changes to give people more time to sign up for insurance and blunt the effect of cancellations.It's no longer a question of what can Obama do as president, but more along the lines of what wont he do as president.
He announced Nov. 14 that states could allow plans to extend current policies for a year. At least 22 states, including California and New York, have said they won’t allow insurers to extend expiring plans, according to Ignagni’s group. Instead, people in those states will have to buy new policies that comply with the law, either directly from insurers or through government-run marketplaces.
A week later, he pushed back the deadline to sign up for coverage effective Jan. 1 by eight days, to Dec. 23.