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Obamacare signup deadline extended to Tuesday

Updated: 2013-12-24 09:36
( Agencies)


The 2010 Affordable Care Act requires most Americans to be enrolled in coverage by March 31 or face penalties that start at $95. But the enrollment deadline for January 1 coverage is widely viewed as the first real test of the viability of the healthcare overhaul.

The original deadline was extended from December 15 after HealthCare.gov proved dysfunctional. Late last week, the administration added a new category of "hardship" exception that allows some people not to sign up for any kind of health insurance without facing a penalty. The newest exception is designed for people who have had problems signing up with Obamacare after seeing their old policies canceled because they did not meet the law's stepped-up standards of coverage.

States running their own healthcare exchanges were not bound by the latest federal extension. Connecticut, for example, kept Monday as its deadline, while New York pushed back its deadline by one day, to 11:55 p.m. ET on Tuesday.

"Volume is high and the decision was made to extend the deadline to provide consumers more time," said Bill Schwarz, spokesman for the New York State Department of Health. "However, we are not experiencing difficulties such as people stuck in queues."

New York reported early Monday that it had enrolled nearly 137,000 people in private health plans after a surge during the past week.


Republican lawmaker Fred Upton, a frequent critic of Obamacare, derided Monday's extension as the latest in a string of missed deadlines for the healthcare law.

"Another day, another delay," said Upton, chairman of the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce committee. "As we celebrate Christmas and prepare to ring in the New Year, we continue to ask, 'What's next?'"

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi countered that December has been a good month for Obamacare and predicted the problems will fade with time.

"We'll ride this out," she told reporters. "Having health insurance for many more Americans - as a right for the many, not a privilege for the few - is worth the politics."

Obama himself, on vacation in Hawaii, signed up for a health insurance plan over the weekend, a so-called "bronze" plan that costs less than $400 a month, the White House said. The move was symbolic because U.S. presidents receive healthcare from the military.

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