NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — New Yorkers whose health insurance policies were cancelled because of federal health care reform are now getting a one-day extension to pick a replacement plan in order to avoid a lapse in coverage on Jan. 1.
Monday was originally the last day people could purchase a plan through New York’s new online insurance marketplace if they wanted coverage to be in effect on New Year’s Day. Now the state has given New Yorkers until shortly before midnight on Tuesday to find a plan.
The federal government also extended Monday’s deadline to Tuesday for the 36 states that chose to use the federal HealthCare.gov system instead of providing their own marketplace.
Obama administration official Julie Bataille said the grace period was offered to accommodate people from different time zones and to deal with potential technical problems that could result from a last-minute rush of applicants.
By Monday morning, the New York exchange reported that 421,949 people had completed applications for individual or family coverage, while 188,546 of them had enrolled in a plan.
At least 100,000 New Yorkers had their old plans cancelled because of new regulations ushered in by the Affordable Care Act.
Last week, the White House announced that those who had their existing policies cancelled can get a “hardship exemption” from having to pay the fine for going without coverage.
Support for Obamacare has sunk even lower, with approval at just 35 percent compared to 62 percent who disapprove, CBS 2’s Dick Brennan reported Monday.
“The rollout and the ideas behind the fact that the federal government could manage appropriately one-sixth of the economy is proving itself erroneous,” said Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.).
And even Democrats want the White House to continue to move slowly on penalties.
“This whole 2014 will be a transitional year. To find out where our glitches are and our little nuances we have to work for and find out if the market can produce the products that we need to keep this and us healthy,” said Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WVa.).
Critics say the latest change is more proof that a one-year delay of the health care law is needed. President Barack Obama dismissed that idea before leaving for a Christmas vacation in Hawaii.
“The basic structure of the law is working, despite the website problems, despite the messaging problems,” he said. “Despite all that, it’s working.”
On Friday, Obama said 1 million people had enrolled for insurance so far – a huge jump from the end of November, but still far short of the administration’s initial target of 3.3 million enrollees by the end of the year.
A more significant deadline comes in March. That’s when federal law requires all Americans to get health coverage or face fines.
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