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More than 50K in NM sign up for ‘Obamacare’

Copyright © 2017 Albuquerque Journal

At least 50,539 New Mexicans signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act during the enrollment period that ended Dec. 15, according to figures released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

That number does not include consumers who enrolled in plans through the early hours of Dec. 16, those who “left their contact information at the call center due to high volume,” or those who paid premiums to continue their coverage under the act, according to a statement by CMS.

The agency said it plans to release a final enrollment report in March 2018.

Last year, about 55,000 New Mexicans enrolled in plans under the Affordable Care Act, which is also known as Obamacare. This year the enrollment period was significantly shorter – six weeks instead of 12 – and CMS had a budget of $10 million instead of $100 million for all Affordable Care Act promotional activities throughout the country.

Nationally, 8.8 million people signed up through the federal marketplace this year compared with 9.2 million last year.

The Trump administration, which argues that the Affordable Care Act is an overreach of government powers, has made several attempts to undermine its execution. In addition to shrinking the enrollment period and slashing the promotional budget, the administration cut certain subsidies to health insurance companies that cover low-income people and planned outages of the federal marketplace website, Healthcare.gov, during peak enrollment times.

Last week, Trump signed into law a tax overhaul bill, which includes the repeal of the act’s individual mandate. The mandate requires Americans to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty fee; the Congressional Budget Office estimates that its repeal will lead to an additional 10 million uninsured Americans over the next decade.

The repeal goes into effect in 2019.

On Tuesday, Trump said on Twitter that the repeal of the mandate “essentially (over time) repeals Obamacare.” But much of the 2010 law remains in place, including protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions and the Medicaid expansion for low-income adults, including more than 200,000 New Mexicans.

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