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Lipinski Introduces Bill Providing Adequate Time to Meet ACA Requirements

Concerned about the ongoing technical difficulties and malfunctions with healthcare.gov, the Affordable Care Act’s federal marketplace website, U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski (IL-3) today introduced the Health Care Access Fairness and Penalty Delay Act. This legislation would require the Health and Human Services (HHS) Inspector General to certify when the healthcare.gov website is fully operational, a process that would be informed in part by periodic reports from the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Once the Inspector General certifies that the website is operational, individuals would have at least 90 days to enroll in a health care plan, and the individual mandate’s penalties would not commence until 30 days later. 

“I and many of my constituents have been frustrated in our efforts to use the healthcare.gov website to shop for health insurance and to enroll in a new plan as required for those without insurance by the Affordable Care Act,” Rep. Lipinski said. “It is unacceptable that the Administration and its contractors produced a website with so many problems and have been unable to fix it. This must be rectified as soon as possible, but if it is not done in a timely manner it would be deeply unfair to our constituents to direct them to use a poorly-functioning portal in order to comply with the law.

“I did not vote for the Affordable Care Act but it is now the law and we need to do everything we can to try to make it work. That is why I am introducing this bill. Contrary to the proposals of House Republicans and some Democrats for a delay of a year in the individual mandate, which would be very damaging to the ultimate effectiveness of the law and the health insurance marketplaces, our performance-based proposal would base any delay in the individual mandate on the time it takes for healthcare.gov to become fully operational. Only at that point will people be able to effectively use the website to find health insurance, and it is only fair that we provide reasonable time and opportunity for individuals to do so.”

Should the Administration meet its goal of the healthcare.gov website being fully functional by Nov. 30, then none of the current deadlines in statute or regulation would be changed. However, under the Health Care Access Fairness and Penalty Delay Act, the enrollment period and the subsequent individual mandate and related penalties would be based on when the health insurance exchange website actually works should the technical challenges persist past that point.

Rep. Lipinski was joined in introducing this bill with U.S. Reps. Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-9), Scott Peters (CA-52), Pete Gallego (TX-23), Ron Barber (AZ-2), Pat Murphy (FL-18), John Barrow (GA-12), Filemon Vela (TX-34) and Joe Garcia (FL-26).