Dems call for extended ObamaCare open enrollment in wake of storms

 Dems call for extended ObamaCare open enrollment in wake of storms
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Two top House Democrats are urging the Trump administration to extend the open enrollment period for ObamaCare and Medicare Advantage plans in the wake of a series of major hurricanes.

In a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Tom PriceThomas (Tom) Edmunds PriceHHS nominee Azar made millions working for drugmaker Lilly Government travel paid for by taxpayers must be accountable Overnight Health Care: Mandate repeal sparks fears of premium hikes | HHS nominee to get Senate hearing this month | Trump officials eye work requirements for Medicaid recipients MORE on Thursday, Reps. Richard Neal (Mass.) and Frank Pallone Jr. (N.J.) argued that people in areas affected by the storms should be granted additional time to enroll in the plans while they recover. 

"Many residents are focused on securing their houses, taking care of elderly neighbors, rebuilding amid flood damage and ensuring access to food, water and necessary treatment and medication," the lawmakers wrote.

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"During this period of response and recovery, HHS should allow residents of affected states and territories additional leeway for both of the upcoming enrollment seasons."

The Trump administration cut the enrollment period in half this year. It is scheduled to begin on Nov. 1 and end on Dec. 15 for states that use the federal insurance marketplace.

Neal and Pallone, the ranking members on the House Ways and Means Committee and Energy and Commerce Committee, respectively, are requesting that Price extend the deadline through January 2018.

Neal and Pallone's request came as communities in the Caribbean, the U.S. Gulf Coast and Florida work to recover from a series of deadly hurricanes. 

Late last month, Hurricane Harvey devastated swaths of southeast Texas and Louisiana, causing billions of dollars in damage.

Earlier this month, Hurricane Irma ripped through the Caribbean before striking Florida, leaving a trail of damage. 

Most recently, Hurricane Maria, now a Category 3 storm, lashed the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, leaving the island without electricity. That storm is not expected to threaten the U.S. mainland.