The Administration finally found a deadline it won’t assert the authority to alter or delay at will:
On a conference call with reporters Tuesday afternoon, officials at the Department of Health and Human Services insisted that March 31 is the firm deadline to sign up for Obamacare. “We have no plans to extend the open enrollment period,” HHS official Julie Bataille said. “In fact, we don’t actually have the statutory authority to extend the open enrollment period in 2014.”
It seems almost unfair to point out that the closure of the open enrollment period is the last stick remaining to get people to sign up this year.
They’d as soon let go of that as I’d let go of a half-full martini glass. That might be doubly true given the latest revelation from Megan McArdle about exchange signups:
In February, 27 percent of the customers were ages 18 to 34. That’s slightly better than previous months, but not nearly enough to improve the overall demographics of the insurance pool. Before enrollment began, the administration said it needed about 40 percent of customers to be young adults. Even after February’s improvement, the total percentage of young adults in the pool is still just 25 percent.
The administration says it’s hopeful that the pace of enrollment will accelerate in March, based on the experience of Romneycare in Massachusetts. But as you can see in this chart posted by my colleague Ezra Klein in January, by this stage in the enrollment process, signups by young healthy people had already ramped up much more significantly than we’ve seen in the national exchanges. In fact, to go by the Massachusetts experience, we should have seen Young Invincible enrollment peak in February. If 27 percent is the peak, the exchanges are in big trouble.
That Means It’s Working™.