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PPACA enrollment extended for sick patients

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The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan — or at least the patients enrolled in it — is getting one last extension.

The Obama administration said Thursday that sick patients in the temporary, federal program now will have until June 30 to select an exchange health plan.

See also: GAO eyes PCIP woes, exchange construction efforts

After three previous extensions, coverage for PCIP enrollees will end April 30. But those left in the pool get another two months to enroll in a plan at

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced the move in a bulletin as a “60-day special enrollment period due to exceptional circumstances for individuals remaining in the program who have not found new coverage that begins on May 1.”

The CMS announcement said former PCIP patients who use the special enrollment period will have coverage that “will be effective back to May 1.”

Sign-ups in PPACA plans technically ended March 31, though the administration extended the date to April 15 to consumers who struggled to sign up using the website. Other state-based exchanges also have extended their deadlines.

The PCIP program — which offers coverage to patients once turned away by carriers — was due to end on March 31, the same day as open enrollment. But last month the administration extended the program another month amid concerns that some of the nation’s sickliest patients wouldn’t be able to find and buy health coverage ahead of the deadline.

At the time, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services spokesman Aaron Albright said the extension was “part of our continuing effort to help smooth consumers’ transition into marketplace coverage…while (PCIP patients) receive the ongoing care and treatment they need.”

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