What it is doing is apparently a little more convoluted:
As the law stands now, in order to be covered by March 31, people would actually need to have insurance by March 1. And since it takes up to two weeks to process insurance applications, consumers would have to apply by Feb. 15, the Associated Press reported recently. (People must apply by Dec. 15 if they want coverage starting Jan. 1.)
The Administration, however, has recognized that there’s a “disconnect” between the actual and effective deadlines, as the deadline to get health insurance in time to comply with the ACA is currently six weeks earlier than the final deadline to buy it. Now, the Administration is working to make sure the two deadlines line up with each other, says the HHS official. An announcement about when it will enforce the penalty for being uninsured, and whether that penalty will be delayed beyond the de facto March 31 deadline, will come shortly. The insurance requirement still kicks in Jan. 1, and the enrollment period will close March 31 as planned, the official adds.
Translation: the White House is buying itself an extra six weeks before it has to tell the IRS to start taxing people for not buying insurance from a website that can’t sell it to them. Which leads one to the conclusion that the White House doesn’t expect said website to be up and running by February 15th. As well as the conclusion that the White House is hesitant to simply bull its way through this one…