- The Washington Times - Monday, December 23, 2013

People hoping to gain health insurance through the new health care law by Jan. 1 now have an extra 24 hours to enroll, due to a quiet move by the Obama administration.

Government officials and contractors tweaked some software to make sure that anyone who enrolled by 11:59 p.m. on Christmas Eve still would still obtain coverage by the dawn of the new year, and insisted the deadline — at least on paper — is still today.

“We recognize that many have chosen to make their final decisions on today’s deadline and we are committed to making sure they can do so,” said Julie Bataille, spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. “Anticipating high demand and the fact that consumers may be enrolling from multiple time zones, we have taken steps to make sure that those who select a plan through tomorrow will get coverage for Jan 1.”

The agency said the concept is similar to voting on Election Day — if you’re on line when the polls close, you still get to vote.

The latest delay, first reported by the Washington Post, provides breathing room to those who lost coverage because their existing plans did not meet Obamacare’s coverage requirements.

President Obama faced a political maelstrom after his claim that people who liked their health plans could keep them, period, under his law, was roundly debunked by a flurry of cancellation notices.

His administration, much to the chagrin of the insurance industry, has announced a series of delays or guidance in recent weeks aimed at providing leeway to those who are trying to find a new plan but had trouble with the law’s glitch-ridden websites in October and November.