Healthcare

Advocates call for ObamaCare open enrollment extension after website glitches

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Democratic lawmakers and health care advocates are calling on the Trump administration to extend the deadline for ObamaCare open enrollment after reports of widespread glitches with the healthcare.gov website.

For the 38 states that use healthcare.gov, Sunday is the last day to sign up for ObamaCare plans for coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2020. According to advocacy groups, technical problems with the website have been preventing people from signing up.

“Given that serious technical problems also significantly impacted the first day of Open Enrollment, preventing approximately 100,000 people from signing-up, an extension is critical to make sure all consumers who want to take advantage of the quality, affordable coverage options available at HealthCare.gov are able to do so,” said Joshua Peck, co-founder of Get America Covered who oversaw enrollment efforts for the Obama administration.

Democratic lawmakers have also been calling for an extension, such as 2020 presidential candidates Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), as well as Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.).

A spokesperson for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which is in charge of healthcare.gov and implementing open enrollment, said the website “remains open for business.”

The agency gave no indication of extending open enrollment, but said any consumers who entered their information before the deadline of 3 a.m. eastern time will be able to sign up for coverage. 

The agency deployed a “waiting room” to help control the flow of traffic, but the spokesperson said the waiting room will only impact a “portion of customers.” Others will be able to enroll without seeing a waiting room.

As of Dec. 7, more than 3.9 million people had signed up for plans, a 6 percent drop compared to a similar time period last year. 

But the last few days of open enrollment typically bring a surge of signups, and Peck said he was concerned that the website was not able to handle the traffic of tens of thousands of people attempting to enroll. 

Tags Bob Casey Elizabeth Warren Mazie Hirono ObamaCare open enrollment Pete Buttigieg Ron Wyden

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