The Obama administration is expected to announce sometime this week that the "keep your plan" fix will be extended another year, preventing a wave of cancellations weeks before the midterm election, The Hill reports. Though the administration said it had no extensions to announce, sources within the White House said people would be able to keep their non-compliant plans possibly through the end of President Obama's term, or longer.
As the highest ranking Democrat in the country, this is a good political move for his party — there are several red state Democrats in hotly contested seats who are really, really happy. Current attack ads against Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and others constantly bring up the "If you like your plan, you can keep it" Lie of the Year — without this extension, a new wave of cancellations would have hit around early October, a little over a month before the elections. For the president, this also takes some of the negative attention away from him as he heads into the twilight of his presidency.
The problem with this, and a lot of the other delays and extensions, is that it undercuts the law. It's fair to wonder what's the point of the 10 essential benefits — both the popular ones like prescription drug coverage and the less popular ones like maternity and pediatric care older Americans don't need — when moves like this imply they're not necessary. This is a political move at the expense of a policy one. And while insurance companies aren't the most sympathetic, these spur of the moment changes give them something to blame higher premiums on. “These continual delays, these stops and starts, make it very difficult because we set rates based on predictive modeling,” one anonymous executive told The Hill. “When you change the rules, it has a detrimental impact on your ability to calculate your risk pool and your prices.”