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New Mexico wants individual exchange numbers

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SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — troubles could undermine New Mexico’s goal of getting 84,000 individuals into exchange health plans in the coming year, lawmakers were told Thursday.

Jason Sandel, a member of the governing board of the state’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) exchange program, said the panel had sent a letter to federal officials expressing frustration that computer glitches have prevented many individuals from shopping and enrolling in insurance plans since the online marketplace was launched Oct. 1.

New Mexico is operating its own small-group exchange, but it has been depending on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to handle individual exchange plan enrollment in 2014.

Sandel said 925 businesses have started signing up for health coverage through the state-run exchange and 294 have finished the enrollment process, which allows workers to start selecting an insurance plan.

The board hoped 84,000 New Mexicans would obtain health insurance coverage during the first year, but Sandel said there’s no information yet on how many individuals in the state have been able to navigate the federal online system and purchase a health plan.

“It goes without saying that obviously the federal government’s snafus hamper our potential for success at this given moment,” Sandel told the Legislature’s interim Health and Human Services Committee.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told a congressional committee Wednesday that the federal exchange’s glitches are being repaired and the website should operate smoothly for most individuals by the end of the month.

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