The Obama administration will allow consumers to extend health insurance plans that fail to comply with President Barack Obama's healthcare law beyond 2014, according to three people familiar with the matter.
In a move that could help Democrats avoid a repeat of last autumn's public outcry over canceled health policies, administration officials are expected to announce the change within the next few days, according to the sources.
The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the administration has considered a number of alternatives and could opt to allow renewals of up to three years, which could postpone a new round of cancellations until after the 2016 presidential election.
The administration on Tuesday said it had nothing to announce.
But an official indicated that policy "final guidance" on the issue would come soon.
"The administration has committed to doing all we can to smooth the transition for hard-working Americans. We've taken steps already and are continuing to look at options," said Joanne Peters, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
The possibility of a new administration directive was first reported by the congressional newspaper, The Hill.
Obama and his Democratic allies were rocked last autumn by a political uproar over millions of people who received cancellation notices from their insurers because their plans did not meet consumer safeguards, including minimum benefit requirements set by Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
The administration responded in November by saying it would not enforce the law's provisions for those who received notices. That gave state insurance regulators, insurers and consumers the option to renew noncompliant plans for a year. Read more.