HHS Creates Another Obamacare Hardship Waiver
7:10 AM, Apr 2, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
A few weeks ago during a Congressional hearing, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told Congress regarding Obamacare, “We have implemented a number of changes in the way the law was written to ease the transition into the marketplace.” This week, her department has done the same thing once more, granting penalty exemptions for people who applied for Medicaid or CHIP (Children's Health Insurance Program) coverage before March 31 but who may experience a gap in coverage before their applications are processed and approved. Guidance issued on March 31 declares that "HHS is exercising its authority to extend the hardship exemption" to individuals in this position.
Back in October, the federal government recognized a flaw in the way the initial open enrollment period was set up. Since the "shared responsibility payment" (penalty/tax) affects anyone who has a gap in coverage of more than three months, anyone who enrolled after February 16 would not have coverage until April 1, resulting in a penalty. HHS issued guidance on October 28, 2013 that created a hardship exemption for anyone in this position whose private insurance coverage was obtained during the open enrollment period but was not effective until after March 31.
In that October guidance, however, HHS apparently overlooked the fact that those applying for Medicaid or CHIP would face the same coverage gap, resulting in a violation of Obamacare's individual mandate. HHS rectified the oversight in guidance issued on Monday.
First, in regard to Medicaid, HHS says that since
Second, regarding CHIP coverage, HHS says that since
There is still much to be learned about the hardship exemptions and how they will be granted and approved. HHS has not responded to multiple emails inquiring about the number of exemptions filed so far, and how those whose exemptions are turned down after the close of open enrollment might avoid the penalty. But with Monday's new guidance, the list of exemptions is growing, and HHS will need to clarify just how the process will work.
Recent Blog Posts