(NEWSER– In a surprise move, the Obama administration essentially lifted the individual mandate last night for anyone who saw their insurance policy cancelled thanks to the Affordable Care Act, just days before the Dec. 23 deadline to sign up for Jan. 1 coverage. These consumers will be able to apply for a hardship exemption if they think the plans on the government-run exchanges are too expensive, allowing them to buy bare-bones "catastrophic" coverage instead, or simply duck the requirement entirely, the Washington Post reports.

  • The change is a response to pressure from a dozen Democratic senators, most facing tough reelection campaigns, who said the administration hadn't done enough to help people bitten by the law. They issued a statement last night saying they were pleased, but would "closely monitor how the administration implements this option."