Heinrich and Udall call for delay in Obamacare individual mandate UPDATE: Pearce says I told you so
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By Rob Nikolewski │ New Mexico Watchdog
SANTA FE – Both U.S. senators from New Mexico have joined a group of 10 Democratic colleagues in calling for an extension for people seeking health-care coverage on the troubled website.
and co-signed a letter sent Friday to , , calling for a delay in the current end date for “the individual mandate” beyond March 31.
“Our constituents are frustrated, and we fear that the longer the website is not functional, opportunities for people to log on, learn about their insurance choices, and enroll will be lost,” the letter to Sebelius said.
“These technical glitches delay thousands of New Mexicans from enrolling in affordable health care coverage, which is unacceptable,” Heinrich said in a statement Friday. “An extension would give families time to properly evaluate plans and select a choice that is right for them.”
Udall said that while he was “proud to support” the ,” he is urging President Obama “to use his authority to ensure individuals aren’t penalized for lack of coverage if technical problems prevent them from enrolling.”
Update 4:59 p.m.: The only Republican in the New Mexico Capitol Hill delegation, , has been a critic of Obama’s health care plan. Pearce sent out a statement late Friday afternoon in which he essentially says, “I told you so.”
“I am pleased to hear the senators now agree that Obamacare has many problems and we need to take steps to fix those problems,” said Pearce. “I have worked for months to give Americans the same delays that businesses have been given. I look forward to working with the senators to address Obamacare’s many defects, and make sure New Mexicans are treated fairly.”
Small businesses and their employees in New Mexico can bypass the site and log onto the but those looking for individual coverage are directed to the federal website, which has reported glitches all across the country since its launch Oct. 1.
In addition to Heinrich and Udall, Friday’s letter to Sebelius was also signed by eight other Senate Democrats — Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Mark Begich of Arkansas, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Dianne Feinstein of California, Mark Udall of Colorado and Michael Bennet of Colorado.
Sebelius has come under fire for the federal website’s problems, with .
“The majority of people calling for me to resign I would say are people who I don’t work for, and who do not want this program to work in the first place,” she .
Earlier this year, what’s called the employer mandate — a requirement that all employers with more than 50 employees provide coverage to their workers — by one year.
Contact Rob Nikolewski at and follow him on Twitter @robnikolewski
Posted under Capitol Report.
Tags: Affordable Care Act, Kathleeen Sebelius, Martin Heinrich, New Mexico Heatlh Insurance Exchange, Obamacare, Tom Udall, US Department of Health and Human Services, www.healthcare.gov