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Open enrollment on healthcare.gov is back. This is the federal health insurance exchange set up by the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Sunday was supposed to be the final deadline for coverage in 2020, but website glitches prompted an outcry, and the government restarted enrollment for 36 hours. NPR's Selena Simmons-Duffin has the story.
SELENA SIMMONS-DUFFIN, BYLINE: On Sunday afternoon, Joshua Peck got an alert that healthcare.gov might be in trouble.
JOSHUA PECK: I received an alert that told me that there may be an issue on the site.
SIMMONS-DUFFIN: Who is this person who monitors the health exchange website? Well, under President Obama, he worked in the federal agency that runs it, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. His job was to get the word out about the exchanges. In 2017, the Trump administration slashed that budget. So Peck set up an organization called Get America Covered to do that work outside of the government. When he got the alert, knowing that a lot of people wait until the last minute to enroll, he got worried.
PECK: I went to the log-in page and saw the error message that people were getting. And that's initially what I posted on Twitter.
SIMMONS-DUFFIN: A lot of high-profile Democrats retweeted him, including presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden. Many called on CMS administrators Seema Verma to extend the deadline so that people getting the error messages could still sign up. Midday Monday, she seemed to heed the call and announced healthcare.gov would reopen enrollment. Charles Gaba is an analyst who tracks healthcare.gov enrollment. He has a guess for how many people might have missed out because of the glitches.
CHARLES GABA: I'd estimate that it'd be somewhere in the range of around 100,000 people.
SIMMONS-DUFFIN: There's no guarantee all of those people will hear about the new deadline. And there are many more people with no health coverage at all - 27 million. The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates about 5 million of them are eligible for plans on healthcare.gov with $0 monthly premiums after subsidies. The new deadline for enrolling in coverage is December 18 at 3 a.m. Eastern. Selena Simmons-Duffin, NPR News.
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