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Massachusetts residents who have had difficulty signing up through the Health Connector for unsubsidized health insurance coverage will be given an extra two weeks to enroll under an extension plan to be presented Thursday, two days after President Barack Obama announced a similar reprieve for frustrated consumers on the national level.
Sarah Iselin, the special advisor who Gov. Deval Patrick put in charge of fixing the state's dysfunctional health insurance sign-up website, plans to discuss the change to the state's open enrollment process on Thursday when the Health Connector board meets.
Residents who have had trouble completing enrollment to due technical problems with the website will be allowed to shop online for unsubsidized plans through April 15, with payment due April 23 for coverage starting on May 1.
The open enrollment deadline was supposed to arrive on Monday, but the Obama administration announced this week that those who encountered problems shopping through the federal online marketplace would be given a similar two-week extension.
Iselin, on leave from her job at Blue Cross Blue Shield to assist the state in fixing its glitch-plagued website, will offer her weekly progress report when the board meets at 9 a.m. in the conference room on the top floor of Ashburton Place.
Iselin will also announce that the Connector has eliminated the backlog of paper applications that had been submitted by residents seeking subsidized coverage and awaiting review because the website could not process applications on its own.
After starting with a backlog of 72,000 applications in February and receiving an additional 1,000 applications a day, Connector staff, with the help of hundreds of workers brought on board through the consultant Optum, cleared the remaining 21,000 applications over the past week and officials are confident they can now keep up with new requests as they arrive.
The Connector has also been able to successfully enroll an additional 41,000 residents in temporary MassHealth plans, bringing the total number with transitional coverage to 125,000 residents as software experts work to repair the online enrollment site and eligibility determination system so that subscribers can eventually be placed in their permanent Affordable Care Act plans.
With the full site not expected to be fully functional until the fall, Iselin has said the state will need to seek an additional waiver beyond the June 30 extension already granted to keep subscribers in temporary MassHealth or Commonwealth Care subsidized plans.
Meanwhile, negotiations to end the state's contract with the vendor CGI responsible for building the Connector website are ongoing, according to officials.