- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Hawaii and Washington, D.C., are giving their residents two more weeks to seek private health coverage under Obamacare, once again extending the deadline for consumers who had a hard time on the state-run insurance portals.

Like the federal government and many of the states that ran their own health exchanges, the Hawaii Health Connector and D.C. Health Link each gave consumers who were “in line” by March 31 a couple of weeks to finish picking a health plan. Their initial grace periods would have ended Tuesday.

Both exchanges said April 30 will be the new drop-dead deadline.

“Over the past several weeks, the Connector team has been reaching out to assist those with completing their enrollment,” Tom Matsuda, the Hawaii exchange’s interim executive director, said. “This will be the last chance for many individuals and families to enroll.”

People who miss the final deadline will have to wait until open enrollment starts again Nov. 15 to seek a government-subsidized Obamacare plan on the exchanges.

The District characterized its decision as a response to continuing demand, but reminded last-minute enrollees they must attest they began their applications by March 31.

Hawaii’s exchange was among several state-run portals that encountered rampant problems after their October launch. So far, the state’s exchange has enrolled only about 8,100 people, and Mr. Matsuda said that number should rise with the extra enrollment time.

GOP critics of the health care law have been critical of the deadline extensions.

They said departing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius had assured Congress that her agency would stand by the formal March 31 deadline, but the Obama administration then said people who tried to enroll in time should be allowed to finish up.

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