- Associated Press - Monday, January 30, 2017

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut officials voiced concern Monday that some consumers may ignore the upcoming enrollment deadline and unwittingly face future tax penalties because of confusion over the future of the Affordable Care Act.

Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman and officials from Access Health CT, the state’s health insurance marketplace, urged people to sign up for health coverage before the Tuesday midnight deadline. They contend any changes made in Washington D.C. likely won’t affect plans in 2017.

“Ultimately, what we think and hope is the federal government will listen to the insurance industry, the hospital association, the American Medical Association,’ said Jim Wadleigh, chief executive of Access Health CT. “They all say they don’t want to see rapid change in 2017.

Wadleigh said his office has received calls from residents who believe they no longer need insurance because of a recent executive order signed by President Donald Trump that gives federal agencies authority to grant waivers, exemptions and delays of provisions in the Affordable Care Act. Wadleigh said Access Health CT does not interpret the executive order that way and contends the insurance coverage mandate still exists, requiring consumers to obtain insurance else pay a financial penalty.

So far, roughly 108,000 people have signed up for coverage in Connecticut, several thousand fewer than last year.

Vicki Veltri, a health care adviser to Wyman, said the administration is watching the debate in Washington about the Affordable Care Act very closely to determine how to respond to a possible repeal.

“We are aware of all of the conversations that are floating around. We are not just sitting by as if nothing is happening,” she said. “But we are also very aware that you cannot respond to something that doesn’t exist.”

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