Sebelius: Texas Opposition Hasn’t Helped Sign-Ups

Associated Press

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says political opposition in Texas to the federal health care overhaul hasn’t helped the state’s underperforming sign-up numbers.

Sebelius visited Austin on Friday for one last push before next week’s open enrollment deadline. Millions of uninsured have until Monday to pick a plan or face penalties.

About 295,000 people in Texas had enrolled as of March 1. That’s less than half the 629,000-person target for Texas that federal officials originally set.

Gov. Rick Perry and Texas’ Republican leaders have consistently criticized the health overhaul.

At a United Way center in Austin, Sebelius said legal challenges and a “constant barrage of misinformation” haven’t helped people trying to figure out the law.

Texas has the highest rate of uninsured residents in the country.

Governor Rick Perry responded to Sebelius’ comments with the following statement:

“Yet again, the Obama Administration would rather point fingers at other people than accept any of the responsibility for Obamacare’s failure. The truth is, the more people learn about Obamacare, the less they like it, and the most egregious examples of misinformation have come directly from the president himself, with false promises that people could keep their existing plans and they could continue going to their own doctor. Texas is not the reason Obamacare is failing; it’s failing because it’s simply bad policy.”


El Paso health care enrollment sites pop up as deadline looms

By Aaron Bracamontes

Thousands lined up Friday outside the El Paso County Coliseum, scrambling to enroll for health care under the Affordable Care Act just days before the national deadline.

Monday is the last day to register for health care or be fined $95 next year. There is a 15-day extension, until April 15, for those who have already begun the enrollment process.

“We’ve had the biggest rush since we started,” said Jennifer Buschick, Enroll El Paso’s program director.

On Thursday, “we had about 2,000 voicemails at our office.”

On Friday, people and families hurried to the Coliseum and four other enrollment events around the city.

The line at the Coliseum was about 100 yards long at times.

“That’s what we get for waiting until the end,” said Santa Lopez, 38.

Once inside, workers and volunteers had to make sure residents had the proper paperwork, an email address and a health care ID number before they could find an ideal insurance plan.

Maria Magallanes, 56, waited two hours in line to be told she had to get another form filled out

“I didn’t expect this,” Magallanes said. “It was a waste of time. But if I don’t come back today I will have to wait until tomorrow to go to St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Canutillo.”

Work and other obligations made it hard for Magallanes to make time to enroll before Friday. She also was confused on what paperwork she needed to have.

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