IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Flashback to 2006: When Bush extended an enrollment deadline

U.S. President George W. Bush delivers his State of the Union speech during a joint session of Congress, in Washington, January 28, 2003, as Vice President Richard Cheney looks on. Bush braced wary Americans for the possibility of war with Iraq, saying "some crucial hours may lie ahead for U.S. troops in the region. Looking on, is Vice President Dick Cheney. REUTERS/Larry Downing SV/ME - RTRHDE8© Reuters Photographer / Reuters / REUTERS

As Republicans complain about the Obama administration’s latest deadline extension for Americans to purchase health insurance, Democrats are countering with this reminder: The Bush administration did something similar in 2006.

Back then, as it was implementing the Medicare prescription-drug benefit Bush had signed into law, the GOP presidential administration announced it was waiving penalties for low-income seniors and those with disabilities who signed up late.

As one Knight Ridder report put it at the time:

The move follows a recent administration decision to allow the same impoverished beneficiaries to sign up for Medicare drug coverage until Dec. 31.

"In other words, you can apply after May 15th without penalty. And that's important for low-income seniors to understand," President Bush told a group of older Americans in Sun City Center, Fla., on Tuesday.

There’s one key difference between Bush’s Medicare prescription-drug benefit and Obama’s health-care law: Democrats didn’t try to scuttle the Medicare law’s implementation (especially since some of them had voted for it), while the same isn’t exactly true of GOP actions regarding the health-care law.

But the 2006 story is a reminder that when it comes to the implementation of complex new laws, both Democratic and Republican administration have changed the rules to encourage enrollment.