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One week left for Obamacare sign-up

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — About a week remains to sign up for health insurance on the Affordable Care Act marketplace.

The end of the 45-day enrollment period is Dec. 15. Last year’s deadline was Jan. 31.

The federal Center for Medicare & Medicaid services reported that 20,191 New Mexicans had signed up by the fifth week of the enrollment period. A year-over-year comparison was not available.

About 55,000 New Mexicans signed up for marketplace plans in 2016.

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Cheryl Gardner, CEO of BeWellNM, the state’s healthcare exchange, said she is “hopeful” about the enrollment figures.

“We get an uptick in our enrollment in the last third of the period, which is this week,” said Gardner. “It’s clear that we’ve built a culture of coverage in New Mexico, and people here don’t want to change that.”

Gardner said about 50,000 New Mexicans are eligible for income-based tax credits that would render their plans either free or reduced in cost.

Nationally, 3.6 million people have signed up for plans through the Affordable Care Act, which is also known as Obamacare.

The Trump administration has made undermining the act a cornerstone of its health care policy. In addition to shrinking the enrollment period, the administration has cut certain subsidies to health insurance companies that cover low-income people; slashed the consumer outreach budget by 90 percent; and planned outages of the federal marketplace website, Healthcare.gov, during peak enrollment times.

The Senate tax bill approved last weekend eliminates the penalty for those who choose not to enroll in health insurance. The House and Senate are now working on a final version of the bill.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, a repeal of the individual mandate would increase premiums and lead to 13 million more people going without health insurance over the next decade.

Republican leaders argue that the mandate represents an overreach of government powers.

More information about New Mexico’s marketplace is available on BeWellNM.com or by calling 1-833-ToBeWell. A plan comparison tool is available through the Office of Superintendent of Insurance at OSICompareHealthPlans.org.


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