WASHINGTON — With many states lagging far behind schedule, the Obama administration said Friday that it would extend the deadline for them to submit plans for health insurance exchanges, the online markets where millions of Americans are expected to obtain private coverage subsidized by the federal government.
The original Nov. 16 deadline will be extended to Dec. 14 — and, in some cases, to Feb. 15, the administration said.
The Congressional Budget Office predicts that 25 million people will obtain coverage through the new online shopping malls known as insurance exchanges. Most of them willreceive federal subsidies averaging more than $5,000 a year per person to help them pay premiums.
Every state is supposed to have an exchange by Jan. 1, 2014, when the federal government will require most Americans to have insurance. Many states delayed work on the exchanges to see the outcome of a Supreme Court case challenging the health care law, then waited to see if President Barack Obama would be re-elected.
If a state wants to run its own exchange, its governor still must submit a declaration of intent — generally a brief letter of one or two pages — by Nov. 16. But states will have more time to submit the detailed applications required by federal officials.
The White House has repeatedly said that states were making excellent progress toward creation of the exchanges, even as Republican governors and state legislators expressed ambivalence or outright opposition. In addition, state officials who want to establish exchanges said they were having difficulty because Obama had yet to issue crucial regulations and guidance.