Begich Pushes For Extension For Health Care Sign Up Period

U.S. Senator Mark Begich says he still supports the Affordable Care Act but he recently joined nine other Senate Democrats in asking the Obama administration to extend the sign-up period.

Begich says it’s only fair because the government’s online insurance marketplace has been plagued with technical problems.

“My view is the individual shouldn’t be penalized because government can’t get it together here and get on the website,” Begich said. “So my view is for each one of those weeks that’s delayed on the front end we should extend out the enrollment period for people to have enough time to enroll.”

The administration did extend the enrollment deadline for six weeks, until March 31. A letter Begich signed calls for another extension.

The letter, originated by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, doesn’t specify a new date, but Begich says he doesn’t think much – if any – more time would be needed and he doesn’t believe it would weaken the healthcare program.

An insurance industry group, though, has said another extension would add to its costs and possibly increase prices for 2015.

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Liz Ruskin covers Alaska’s congressional delegation, federal agency decisions that shape life in the 49th state, money in politics and elections. She has deep roots in Alaska and this is her third stint in Washington, a city she has grown to love.

She was born in Anchorage and is a West High graduate. She studied political science at the University of Washington and has an M.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri in Columbia. During graduate school, she moved to Washington to intern as a D.C. correspondent. But for her first real journalism job, she moved back to Alaska to work at the Homer News. She was there for three years before taking a job at the Anchorage Daily News. Over the course of nine years in Anchorage, she covered City Hall, courts, state politics, and Native and rural affairs.

Then, in April 2001, she moved back to Washington to work in McClatchy Newspaper’s D.C. bureau as a correspondent for the Anchorage paper. She stayed in the position for five years.

She took a year off for a journalism fellowship at the University of Colorado in Boulder, then freelanced for several years from the U.K. and Japan, in print and radio.

When a vacancy occurred in APRN’s one-person Washington bureau, she jumped at the opportunity. Liz has been APRN’s Washington, D.C. correspondent since October 2013.

lruskin (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  | About Liz