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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi celebrates Affordable Care Act 4th Anniversary, 3/22/14.
Last night, major media outlets reported that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is granting a limited extension of the March 31 deadline to enroll for coverage under the Affordable Care Act for 2014. According to these reports, enrollees who certify that they began the enrollment process by March 31 will be given a brief extension to complete the process.

Predictably, Republicans moved swiftly to attack the ACA extension. For example, on Twitter, many users linked to an early Fox "News" report of the extension, and commented negatively, such as @puristflyfisher, who wrote: "If Obamacare doing so well why more time needed to sign up."

Aside from the valid reason that this limited Affordable Care Act extension is warranted because of previous difficulties with the website that has been overwhelmed with 1 million visits this past Monday and over 1.2 million yesterday, the extension could be good politics for the Democrats. Here are some reasons why:

1. Democrats can point out that the only real objection Republicans could have to the extension is that they want fewer Americans to have healthcare insurance.

2. Alternatively, Democrats can argue that Republicans must want more Americans to pay the penalty for not having ACA coverage. Many Republicans happily called this penalty a "tax increase." Therefore, Democrats can say that, by cutting off enrollees who began the process by March 31 but were unable to complete the sign-up that day, Republicans must want to raise taxes on Americans.

3. Extensions occur all the time. Millions of Americans get extensions on filing their taxes beyond Tax Day, April 15. Indeed, how many Republicans objected in 2003 when the Republicans in charge of the House of Representatives notoriously extended a 15-minute vote on President George W. Bush's Medicare Part D prescription drug plan for 3 hours? That was a twelve-fold time extension. In contrast, the planned ACA extension may be just 15 days or so out of a six-month enrollment period, and only for people who certified that they had begun the enrollment process by March 31. Have you ever gone to a store, restaurant or coffee shop just before closing time, and they lock the door, serve you past closing time, then unlock the door to let you out? That's an extension!

If you encounter a Republican who trashes this Affordable Care Act extension, you may want to grab the frame and ask them why they want fewer Americans to have health insurance.

Photo credit: Office of Nancy Pelosi, used under Creative Commons license.

[Originally posted at Messaging Matters. Copyright 2014 -- All rights reserved]

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