Dems want deadline for Obamacare moved back

Sen. Michael Bennet

Sen. Mark Udall

Both of Colorado’s senators have signed onto a request that the deadline for individuals to own health insurance be set back six weeks.

Sens. Michael Bennet and Mark Udall, both Democrats, said they signed on to a letter by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., asking President Barack Obama to delay the coverage requirement until March 31, 2014.

Shaheen and Udall are up for election in November 2014.

The Affordable Care Act, signed in 2010, set a deadline for individuals to have health insurance by Jan. 1, 2014, and open enrollment for coverage to go into effect on that date began Oct. 1.

Open enrollment, however, has been plagued with computer problems in the states in which the federal government operated exchanges, or online insurance marketplaces.

Colorado is one of the states that operates its own marketplace,

Even though Colorado has a separate marketplace, Udall’s office said it was important to allow time to fix the glitches by extending the enrollment period.

“It has been a terrible rollout,” Bennet said during a stop in Grand Junction on Thursday. “We need to get it fixed.”

The Affordable Care Act was the flashpoint for the federal shutdown this month, with House Republicans trying to repeal, defund or delay implementation of the law. Senate Democrats and Obama, however, refused to negotiate on the law.

The “critical difference” between Udall and Bennet seeking an extension and Republican complaints about the law is that the Democrats are seeking to extend the enrollment period, not gut the law, Udall spokesman Mike Saccone said.

Government in general seems to have problems with computer systems, Bennet said.

“I’ve worked at every level of government and we just don’t do IT (information technology) well,”  Bennet said.

Four other Senate Democrats have proposed delaying the deadline.

One of those, West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, is co-authoring a bill to postpone the $95 penalty for people who fail to meet the deadline.

Other Democrats supporting the effort are Tom Udall of New Mexico, Mark Begich of Alaska, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Kay Hagan of North Carolina, aides to the lawmakers said.


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