K4zw8el802c2lczjp9fi

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

The Obama administration is asking insurance companies to give Americans more time to sign up for health coverage that starts in January, the Washington Post reported.

The official deadline is midnight EST on Monday, Dec. 23. But behind the scenes, administration officials have urged insurers to start coverage on Jan. 1 even for those who sign up after Monday, the Post reported, citing "insurance industry executives."

The push has been under for more than a week. Some companies have agreed, according to the Post, though others will not accommodate the request.

The administration had previously asked insurers to extend their deadline for accepting premium payments for January coverage from Dec. 31 to Jan. 10. The insurance industry's top lobbying group said last week that its members would make that change.

At about 4:15 p.m. ET, the AP wire reported that a federal district judge had declared Utah's ban on gay marriage to be unconstitutional. Within an hour, one gay couple reported on Twitter that they had gotten married.

Seth Anderson, whose Twitter profile says he lives in Salt Lake City, tweeted the below photo of he and his husband holding up their new marriage license.

About 15 minutes later, the AP confirmed that the Salt Lake City Clerk's office had begun issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

In a bit of irony -- and perhaps trolling -- the federal judge who struck down Utah's ban on gay marriage Friday repeatedly cited U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's dissent from this summer's ruling on the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

In doing so, U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby wasn't exactly turning Scalia's words against him but rather fulsomely embracing the dire warnings Scalia had given about what the Supreme Court majority's decision meant for the future legal challenges to state laws that attempt to preserve traditional marriage.

From beginning to end of Shelby's opinion Friday, in four different citations scattered throughout, he favorably cited Scalia's dissent, buttressing his legal analysis with Scalia's warnings.

In its 5-4 decision in June, the Supreme Court held that the federal Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional because it violated individual liberty, but did not rule that all state bans on gay marriage were unconstitutional. In his dissent in the case, United States v. Windsor, Scalia wrote that the majority opinion's logic would inevitably lead to the state bans being declared unconstitutional as well:

Read More →

President Barack Obama acknowledged again Friday that the White House had fumbled Obamacare's rollout in its early days.

"When it came to the health care rollout, even though I was meeting every other week or every three weeks with folks and emphasizing how important it was that consumers had a good experience and easy experience in getting the information they need and knowing what the choices and options were for them to be able to get high quality affordable health care," Obama said, "the fact is it didn't happen in the first month, first six weeks in a way that was at all acceptable."

"And since I'm in charge, obviously, we screwed it up."

President Barack Obama said Friday that more than 500,000 people have enrolled in health coverage through HealthCare.gov in the first three weeks of December.

That would put the total number of enrollments at more than 1 million, senior administration officials noted to TPM, when added to the reported enrollments on the federal and state websites in October and November.

The December enrollment would mark a significant increase since the administration declared the website fixed: 137,000 people signed up through HealthCare.gov in October and November combined.

The new numbers for HealthCare.gov, which serves 36 states, comes after reports of accelerating enrollment at some of the 15 state-run marketplaces. California's marketplace, for example, reported 50,000 in three days this week.

Obama offered the enrollment figure at his end-of-the-year press conference. No official enrollment report has been released.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said Friday that the individual mandate should be fully delayed for one year, the day after the Obama administration announced it would exempt people whose policies had been canceled from the penalty.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said the same in an earlier statement.

“With this latest delay, the Obama administration is once again admitting that the president’s health care law is unworkable and unaffordable," Boehner said in a statement. "Millions have lost the plans they liked, only to find themselves priced out of new policies with higher premiums and out-of-pocket costs."

"The administration’s action does nothing to address the problems at the center of the president’s health care law, or to help the families suffering its consequences. All Americans deserve a hardship exemption from this train wreck of a law, and a focus on patient-centered reforms that will help lower costs and protect jobs.”

The Obama administration's announcement Thursday night that it would exempt people whose policies have been canceled because of Obamacare from the law's individual mandate was an unexpected move.

The White House had been under fire for months over the widespread reports of canceled policies, but rather than assuage those concerns with the new exemption, it runs the risk of opening one of the law's most important (and most unpopular) features to more political meddling.

Congressional Republicans have already used it as an excuse to call for a blanket delay of the individual mandate, and some of the law's most ardent supporters acknowledge that the administration seems to have cracked open a door that could be difficult to close.

"I think by itself this is a not a huge problem. This group should be relatively small," Jonathan Gruber, an MIT economist who helped craft Obamacare, told TPM. "But I think that the administration has to hold the line here. More widespread cracks in the mandate could start to cause enormous problems for insurers."

Read More →

After the Obama administration announced Thursday that it would exempt Americans whose health plans had been canceled from Obamacare's individual mandate, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) said Friday morning that the mandate should be delayed for everybody for one year.

"Our entire health care system can't be fundamentally changed at any given time subject to the random impulses of President Obama. How can anyone make health care decisions today knowing that the law may be unilaterally changed again tomorrow?" Cantor said in a statement. "Republicans have consistently asked for a one year delay of the mandates for all Americans, and put forward a proposal to allow American families to keep their health plans. The White House actions clearly prove ObamaCare can't work as designed. It's time for ObamaCare to be delayed for all."

There are growing signs at the state level that key health care industry players in the push to expand Medicaid under Obamacare are calling it quits for now, pessimistic about getting new legislation passed in the current political environment.

Support for Medicaid expansion from within the health care industry -- in particular from providers like hospitals, doctors and nursing homes -- is a key part of the coalition that Obamacare advocates have hoped will help eventually turn the tide in the non-expanding Republican-dominated states.

But top officials for powerful trade organizations in three of the largest states not expanding Medicaid under Obamacare told TPM that they have effectively given up that fight until political conditions change, setting their sights on 2015 at the earliest.

Read More →

Nearly three-fourths of those who have purchased health insurance on HealthCare.gov since early December were people returning to the site after visiting in October and November, according to senior administration officials.

A survey on the federal website found that 73 percent of those who had completed enrollment in recent weeks said they had first come to the site in the previous two months, officials said. The Obama administration did not declare the site fully fixed until Dec. 1.

The officials touted the figure as evidence that people were giving HealthCare.gov a second chance after its disastrous launch, which had raised questions about whether frustrated consumers would abandon the sign-up process.

"I think we can definitively say that we just haven't seen that," one official said. "Folks have come back, and they're coming back in droves."

TPMLivewire