WASHINGTON, March 26 (UPI) -- The final date for individual Americans to sign up for health insurance through the federal marketplace has been extended for those who begin to sign up but can't complete their enrollment by the March 31 deadline.
Federal officials confirmed plans to allow the flexibility, on an honor-system basis, for people who begin their enrollment before Monday's deadline to continue in the process until mid-April.
According to the new rules, customers will simply have to check a box on their Healthcare.gov application indicating they tried to apply before the deadline.
While the loophole will not technically shift the deadline, it will allow more people to complete a process that has been cumbersome at best.
Republicans Wednesday slammed the move, accusing the White House of trying to pad soft enrollment numbers for political reasons and breaking the rules they themselves wrote.
"The dates are the dates and the law is the law," said Speaker of the House John Boehner at his weekly press conference Wednesday. "The president doesn't have the ability to change the law whenever he wants, which he continues to do."
"The law says the enrollment stops at the end of March," the Ohio Republican continued. "I've got to live by the law, you've got to live by the law, and guess what? The president needs to live by the law as well."
"The administration has now handed out so many waivers, special favors, and exemptions to help Democrats out politically, that the heart of the law -- the individual mandate -- may no longer even be viable," added Minority Leader Mitch McConnell from the Senate floor Wednesday. “It’s basically become the legal equivalent of Swiss cheese."