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NM Dems seek Obamacare enrollment extension

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New Mexico’s two Democratic senators are asking for a delay of the March 31 deadline for Affordable Care Act health insurance enrollment because of the ongoing problems with the federal website built to help individuals shop for coverage.

Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, said more time should be granted to accommodate people who have struggled with the health insurance exchange website. The site has been overloaded with traffic and inaccessible to many since it debuted Oct. 1.

“As long as these substantial technology glitches persist, we are losing valuable time to educate and enroll people in insurance plans,” the senators wrote to Sebelius. “Our constituents are frustrated, and we fear that the longer the website is not functional, opportunities for people to log on, learn about their insurance choices, and enroll will be lost.”

The letter was co-signed by eight other Senate Democrats and sent Friday.

Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., responded to the Democratic senators’ effort to delay implementation of Obamacare, saying the delay was what he and Republicans had called for leading up to the partial government shutdown this month.

“I have worked for months to give Americans the same delays that businesses have been given. I look forward to working with the senators to address Obamacare’s many defects, and make sure New Mexicans are treated fairly,” Pearce said.

The New Mexico senators suggested their effort to ensure that individuals who have struggled with the site is not a sign their support is waning for Obamacare.

“I was proud to support the ACA to ensure millions of New Mexicans and Americans across the country can get affordable health care coverage, but the law isn’t perfect, and we should be willing to work to make any improvements needed,” Udall said. “The president has said the computer glitches in the enrollment system are unacceptable, and I support his efforts to fix the system.”

Heinrich said of the requested delay: “The Affordable Care Act has already yielded numerous benefits, and I’ll continue working with my colleagues to ensure every family in New Mexico has access to quality and affordable health care.”

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