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Email insights: “Unprecedented demand” for coverage through HealthCare.gov

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

Ahead of a Tuesday deadline, the White House is rolling out an Obamacare enrollment push this week, touting a sign-up contest and messaging hard with interviews and e-blasts.

“There are less than two days remaining for consumers to sign up for coverage that starts on January 1 through HealthCare.gov and we are seeing unprecedented demand,” emailed Lori Lodes, director of the Office Of Communications with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

“The energy is outpacing where we were last year ahead of the December 15 deadline. In fact, demand on HealthCare.gov and at the call center is running ahead of last December 14 and even ahead of where we were on December 15 last year. More people are simultaneously shopping right now at HealthCare.gov than at any point this year or last year – and traffic continues to grow. As demand continues to increase, some HealthCare.gov consumers will be asked to wait a short time before they are able to create an account or login to their account.”

The deadline to enroll for coverage under the Affordable Care Act that begins on Jan. 1 is Tuesday, though the final deadline to sign up for coverage next year is not until Jan. 31.

“In addition,” continues Lodes, “because of the longer than normal wait times at the call center, some callers are being asked to leave their contact information so they do not have to stay on the line. We will call consumers back to make sure that they are able to sign-up for the plan that best fits their needs and have it start on January 1. Any consumer who is trying to get covered ahead of the deadline for January 1 coverage – either at HealthCare.gov or the call center – will be able to do so. Consumers should not worry, we are ready to help any consumer who is in-line for coverage to complete their enrollment for January 1 coverage.”

The contest, called the Healthy Communities Challenge, involves 20 cities across the country all competing to sign up the highest percentage of their uninsured residents. The winner will get a visit from President Barack Obama.

Meanwhile, as has been the case since the start, Florida continues to lead the way with 598,279 signups, officials said last week.

“With Florida once again leading all federally facilitated marketplace states in enrollment, we are reminded that Floridians continue to want access to quality, affordable health insurance,” said Raymond Paultre, Florida State Director of  Enroll America, which promotes sign-ups. “The nearly 600,000 Floridians who enrolled or renewed their coverage so far will ring in the New Year with the peace of mind that comes from knowing they will not be one broken bone or illness away from financial ruin.”

At the same time, GOP 2016 contenders Sen. Marco Rubio and Sen. Ted Cruz have made repealing Obamacare a signature campaign issue, one that remains potent with primary voters. This month, for the first time in 16 attempts, the Senate has approved a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The House, which has voted some 60 times to repeal or defund the healthcare plan, is likely to pass the Senate bill- one certain to face a presidential veto, however.

In addition to her work writing for Florida Politics, Melissa Ross also hosts and produces WJCT’s First Coast Connect, the Jacksonville NPR/PBS station’s flagship local call-in public affairs radio program. The show has won four national awards from Public Radio News Directors Inc. (PRNDI). First Coast Connect was also recognized in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014 as Best Local Radio Show by Folio Weekly’s “Best Of Jax” Readers Poll and Melissa has also been recognized as Folio Weekly’s Best Local Radio Personality. As executive producer of The 904: Shadow on the Sunshine State, Melissa and WJCT received an Emmy in the “Documentary” category at the 2011 Suncoast Emmy Awards. The 904 examined Jacksonville’s status as Florida’s murder capital. During her years in broadcast television, Melissa picked up three additional Emmys for news and feature reporting. Melissa came to WJCT in 2009 with 20 years of experience in broadcasting, including stints in Cincinnati, Chicago, Orlando and Jacksonville. Married with two children, Melissa is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism/Communications. She can be reached at m.ross66211@gmail.com.

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