recommended reading

Two States Want to Extend Obamacare Deadline Because of Glitchy Websites

Pavel Ignatov/

At least two states are requesting a longer Obamacare enrollment period--and they might get it.

The Obama administration has been very clear that the enrollment deadline for health insurance purchased on the exchanges is March 31, and that it doesn't think it has the authority to extend it. But because some consumers continue to have trouble signing up, officials are eyeing a "special enrollment period" that would virtually extend the deadline to get coverage.

Nevada and Oregon hope to qualify for one of the health law's special enrollment periods. Consumers in both states have faced technical issues in getting coverage: Oregonians still don't have a functioning online exchange, and Nevadans are receiving error messages and hitting other site glitches reminiscent of's early days.

Just under 39,000 Oregonians and 29,000 Nevadans had successfully selected a plan as of March 1, according to data from the Health and Human Services Department--fewer than 1.6 percent of all Obamacare enrollees nationwide.

State exchange officials have reached out to HHS to request permission to extend the enrollment period. Oregon exchange spokeswoman Ariane Holm said the state is seeking an extension through the end of April. Nevada is looking at up to 60 days, as permitted by law.

Nicholas Bagley, a health law professor at the University of Michigan Law School, wrote a post on the "considerable discretion" HHS has in granting special-enrollment periods for The Incidental Economist, an economics and health blog. HHS, he said, has the legal authority to grant special enrollment periods for consumers who had tried to get coverage but could not.

HHS officials have avoided repeated questions about whether a state could qualify for a special enrollment period and emphasized that consumers should sign up by March 31, the end of open enrollment.

But the administration has already made some tweaks to that deadline, and it wouldn't be uncharacteristic to grant leeway to consumers who tried but could not get coverage, given the number of changes made last December in trying to get people insured who wanted coverage beginning Jan. 1. And just Friday, officials announced consumers with serious illnesses covered under the law's Pre-existing Condition Insurance Program can now select a new exchange plan through April 15.

The Wall Street Journal also reported Sunday that federal officials are working on a plan to allow consumers who tried but failed to get through by March 31 to sign up after the deadline.

Oregon officials, The Oregonian reported late last week, are hoping for a similar reprieve for the state's residents.

And in Nevada, the Las Vegas Sun reports, the state is already making unilateral moves to set up a special enrollment period. It's unclear whether Nevada has the authority, given that HHS has not issued guidelines for how the special-enrollment periods would work, but the board of directors of Nevada's exchange has a vote scheduled Thursday on the matter.

(Image via Pavel Ignatov/

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.