The official sign-up season for President Barack Obama's health care law may be over, but leading congressional Democrats say millions of Americans facing new tax penalties deserve a second chance.
Three senior House members told The Associated Press that they plan to strongly urge the administration to grant a special sign-up opportunity for uninsured taxpayers who will be facing fines under the law for the first time this year.
The three are Michigan's Sander Levin, the ranking Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee, and Democratic Reps. Jim McDermott of Washington, and Lloyd Doggett of Texas. All worked to help steer Obama's law through rancorous congressional debates from 2009-2010.
The lawmakers say they are concerned that many of their constituents will find out about the penalties after it's already too late for them to sign up for coverage, since open enrollment ended Sunday.
That means they could wind up uninsured for another year, only to owe substantially higher fines in 2016. The fines are collected through the income tax system.The fines, of course, would hit in a presidential election campaign. That's not the only politcal problem, as Byron York reports:
The most recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll on Obamacare, released last week, shows that 40 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of the law, while 46 percent have an unfavorable opinion and the rest don't know or won't say. There have been some slight ups and downs over the years, but public opinion seems pretty set: A plurality of Americans has disapproved of Obamacare virtually since the day it was passed.
The basic problem is that Barack Obama promised his healthcare plan would benefit everybody. It doesn't. Under Obamacare, the government subsidizes the health coverage of some Americans while making it more expensive for others. People who have faced higher premiums, higher deductibles, and narrower choices of doctors know they're getting a bad deal.From Kaiser: