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Dylan Scott

Dylan Scott is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. He previously reported for Governing magazine in Washington, D.C., and the Las Vegas Sun. His work has been recognized with a 2013 American Society of Business Publication Editors award for Best Feature Series and a 2010 Associated Press Society of Ohio award for Best Investigative Reporting. He can be reached at dylan@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Dylan

In an unprecedented policy change under Obamacare, California's health insurance marketplace has extended its initial Obamacare enrollment deadline. The move by California, which has the largest individual insurance market in the country, could potentially influence other states and increase pressure on the Obama administration to extend the deadline on the federal marketplace.

The deadline for enrolling in coverage that starts Jan. 1, 2014, will be moved from Dec. 15 to Dec. 23, Covered California, the California marketplace, announced Thursday. The deadline for premium payments will be moved from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5.

Dec. 15 remains the deadline for enrollment on HealthCare.gov, the federal website that serves 36 states. The administration has given no indication that it will extend that deadline for the federal marketplace.

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In a major blow to President Obama's plan, California's health insurance marketplace has decided not to implement the White House's "fix" for people whose health plans have been cancelled.

As the biggest state with what's likely the biggest number of insurance cancellations -- 900,000, according to ProPublica -- the decision will hinder Obama's aim of giving those people the option of keeping their current health plan.

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In order to prevent consumers from being misled or deceived about Obamacare, the Obama administration is setting new rules about the notices that insurance companies should give customers in the individual health insurance market.

The new rules, announced Thursday, address two related issues: notice that must be given to consumers being offered the option of renewing their existing policies and notice that should be given to consumers whose existing policies are being cancelled.

When insurers are offering customers the opportunity to renew an existing insurance plan, part of the new Obamacare "fix," they must inform them that they can shop on the law's new marketplaces and they may qualify for tax credits or other financial assistance.

The required renewal letters will also be required to inform recipients about the differences between their current non-compliant coverage and what they would be able to purchase under Obamacare.

The White House's 'fix' gives state regulators and insurers the option of allowing renewal for non-Obamacare-compliant plans. For those companies that offer renewal under the fix, the notice is required.

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One insurance company that isn't selling its plans on HealthCare.gov is launching a series of ads that mock the federal website's glitchy launch and urge consumers to seek out its policies instead.

According to AdAge, Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield will air three different television ads in Iowa and South Dakota, two of the 36 states where residents are using HealthCare.gov, starting Thursday through mid-December.

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When Republicans regain control of the Senate, they're likely going to expand the rules change that Democrats approved Thursday to apply to U.S. Supreme Court nominees, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said on the Senate floor.

The changes passed by Democrats affects votes on judicial and executive nominees -- requiring only 51 votes to end a filibuster -- but excludes nominees to the Supreme Court.

"The silver lining is that there will come a day when roles are reversed. When that happens, our side will likely nominate and confirm lower court and Supreme Court nominees with 51 votes," Grassley said, "regardless of whether the Democrats actually buy into this fanciful notion that they can demolish the filibuster on lower court nominees and still preserve it for Supreme Court."

Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR), one of three Democratic senators to vote against changing the Senate's filibuster rules, said that the change "could permanently damage the Senate."

"Today’s use of the ‘nuclear option’ could permanently damage the Senate and have negative ramifications for the American people," he said in a statement. "During my time in the Senate, I’ve played key roles in the Gang of 14 and other bipartisan coalitions to help us reach common-sense solutions that both sides of the aisle can support. This institution was designed to protect -- not stamp out -- the voices of the minority."

The other two Democrats who side with Republicans on the filibuster change were Carl Levin (D-MI) and Joe Manchin (D-WV).

It's a ruse, Senate Republicans said before and then after their Democratic colleagues voted Thursday to alter the filibuster rules for judicial and executive nominees. By their telling, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) needed to find something to change the subject after Obamacare's troubled rollout, which had dominated headlines in recent weeks. He found it in changing the Senate rules.

This wasn't about ending GOP obstruction of the president's nominees, they said. This was about distracting from the president's failed health care law.

“I’d be looking to change the subject just as Senate Democrats have been doing with their threats of going nuclear and changing the Senate rules on nominations," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said on the floor before the vote. “Millions of Americans are hurting because of a law Washington Democrats forced upon them, and what do they do about it? They cook up some fake fight over judges that aren’t even needed."

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Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said that Democrats would "pay a heavy, heavy price" for changing the Senate rules for judicial and executive nominees.

"They're governed by the newer members... who have never been in a minority, who are primarily driving this issue," McCain told reporters after the vote. "They succeeded and they will pay a very, very heavy price for it."

McCain said moments later, though, that he did not believe it would be a major election issue. "I don't think Americans understand it very well," he said.

Asked about Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's push to eliminate the upper chamber's filibuster for judicial nominees, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told reporters at his weekly press conference that he thought Reid was "trying to change the subject" from the troubled rollout of Obamacare.

"Sounds to me like Harry Reid is trying to change the subject," he said. "If I were taking all the incoming fire he's taking under Obamacare, I'd try to change the subject, too."

Recounting a Wednesday meeting with President Obama, state insurance commissioners said that the president did not pressure them to go along with his plan for people whose health policies had been canceled.

The meeting, held in the Oval Office, lasted 50 minutes. Bill Nelson, the former U.S. senator who heads the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, told reporters that he initiated the meeting after Obama announced his plan last week.

The plan is predicated on commissioners letting their state's insurance companies to extend non-Obamacare-compliant plans. But it's up to them. And, though a letter sent last week by the administration had "encouraged" state officials to comply, the commissioners said that Obama hadn't tried to convince them to participate during the Wednesday meeting.

"I don't think the president was trying to convince us or persuade us to do what he's suggesting," Connecticut Insurance Commissioner Tom Leonardi, told reporters. "I think it was the exact opposite, that he really understands the value of state regulators, that he really wants to work with the NAIC."

"That's really what it was about. It wasn't the president trying to persuade us or stiff-arm us," he said.

"We came away agreeing that there was a lot of difference of opinions as to whether or not we can or should do what he urged us to do last week," Louisiana Insurance Commissioner and NAIC President Jim Donelon said later.

According to the Washington Post's Wonkblog, which is tracking state commissioners' responses to the fix: six states have agreed to it, six states have said they won't, and seven states have publicly said they're still deciding. The others haven't made public statements.

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