Democrat wants to reopen Obamacare enrollment

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Arizona Democratic Rep. Krysten Sinema still wants the Obama administration to push back the deadline for exchange enrollment even further.

Sinema sent a letter to Obamacare administrator Marilyn Tavenner, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, to argue for another delay several days after federally-run Obamacare exchanges had closed. She did not mention an end-date for her proposed deadline delay.

“As we approach the end of the extended enrollment period, I ask that you allow for additional flexibility for individuals who continue to face technical challenges enrolling and purchasing health insurance coverage,” Sinema wrote. The letter is dated April 18, three days after the enrollment period closed.

“I continue to hear from constituents who face technical challenges enrolling through the website or in receiving confirmation from insurers that they have successfully purchased coverage. These individuals should not be punished, either through a tax penalty or a lack of coverage, because of ongoing technical or process challenges associated with the Affordable Care Act.”

Sinema’s home state Arizona opted to have the federal government run its Obamacare exchange through HealthCare.gov. The Obama administration has already delayed the final enrollment deadline for the state once, from March 31 to April 15, in order to accommodate those experiencing technical difficulties.

There were no verification measures to ensure the late customers had attempted to purchase plans before, allowing anyone who checked a box on the HealthCare.gov to purchase coverage through April 15.

State-run exchanges have been able to extend their own deadlines on a piecemeal basis, giving their potential customers an advantage over states using HealthCare.gov. Hawaii and Washington, D.C. waited until the April 15, their initial deadline day, to extend open enrollment through April 30 and Minnesota pushed its deadline back to April 22 at the last minute.

Oregon, Maryland, Massachusetts and Nevada — all of which encountered serious technical problems with their websites — chose to keep their exchanges open for longer as well. Maryland’s enrollment period closed April 18; Massachusetts’ exchange will be open for select customers through the end fo June; and Oregon’s exchange will be open through the end of April and Nevada’s, through the end of May.

Sinema didn’t specify how long she believes the Obama administration should keep federally-run exchanges open. The purpose of the limited open enrollment period is to ensure that customers don’t wait to purchase insurance only once they fall ill, which would set insurers up for significant financial losses.

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