U.S. Sen. Landrieu backs extending enrollment deadline

Sen. Mary Landrieu said Wednesday she is supporting an effort to extend the open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act health care law beyond the current March 31 deadline.

Landrieu, D-La., plans to support the letter authored Tuesday by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., asking the White House for the extension because of the HealthCare.gov website’s glitch-ridden rollout.

Landrieu remains a supporter of the health care law and she siad she is not advocating delaying any aspects of “Obamacare,” but she does want to give uninsured people more time to determine their options and enroll through the health care exchanges.

“Given the existing problems with the website, I urge you to consider extending open enrollment beyond the current end date of March 31, 2014,” Shaheen wrote in her letter to President Barack Obama.

“Allowing extra time for consumers is critically important so they have the opportunity to become familiar with the website, survey their options and enroll.”

In a prepared statement Wednesday, Landrieu said, “I’ve always been committed to making the Affordable Care Act work and will continue doing so.

“I support extending the enrollment period to give people who haven’t had access or who want more choice enough time to shop from the 40 competitively priced plans in Louisiana’s marketplace. The administration should consider this common sense suggestion.”

On Tuesday, in an email response, Landrieu said she is “frustrated with the delays and glitches, and the (Obama) administration needs to act swiftly to get the website fixed and functional.”

But, as a supporter of the health care law, Landrieu insisted that “We need to keep moving forward so that anyone looking for more competitively priced, quality health insurance” can have it available online through the exchanges.

Landrieu has said she is open to negotiations to improve the health care law but that she opposed doing so previously in a “hostage” situation under the threat of a partial government shutdown and potential government default.

White House officials say they are working to ensure March 31 is the true enrollment deadline and not an estimated Feb. 15 because the amount of time it takes to process applications.

The Republicans in the Louisiana congressional delegation have all been critical of the health care exchanges launch that began Oct. 1.

Reps. John Fleming, R-Minden, and Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, both have called for the resignation of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Fleming and Boustany were joined Tuesday by Sen. David Vitter, R-La., and Reps. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, and Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, in a letter asking Sebelius about the numbers of people enrolled in Louisiana in the health care exchanges and about the increased premium costs for some residents.

The Republicans support a full repeal of the health care law.

The White House has said that updated enrollment numbers are expected to be released in mid-November. Tuesday’s letter asks for a response from Sebelius by Nov. 28.