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By Taylor Knopf

With only three days left to select a health insurance plan through HealthCare.gov, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper is asking federal officials for a one-week extension.

Despite attempts by Congress and President Donald Trump to repeal and undermine the law, the Affordable Care Act attracted 209,050 North Carolinians by the end of five weeks of enrollment.

While the state is ranked third for the most ACA sign-ups nationwide, North Carolina is not on track to meet last year’s total of about 549,000 people who signed up for insurance through Obamacare.

However, last year’s enrollment period was six weeks longer.

Find help enrolling for ACA (Obamacare) insurance:
Scroll down on the NC Navigator Consortium website for a list of enrollment events.

You can call 1-855-733-3711 for an appointment.

Or use the Connector App to find someone near you for help signing up.

Which is why Cooper sent a letter to acting Health and Human Services Sec. Eric Hargan requesting that the deadline to purchase a health care plan through HealthCare.gov in North Carolina be pushed back to Dec. 22.

“North Carolina has a strong economy full of small business owners, farmers and entrepreneurs — people who buy health insurance on their own,” Cooper wrote. “The six-week cut to the open enrollment period heavily impacts our state.”

He continued by noting that past extensions yielded between 400,000- 450,000 additional enrollments.

“A one-week extension of the open enrollment deadline is a reasonable step that will have a positive impact on the health of North Carolina and the entire country,” the governor wrote.

U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and Patty Murray (D-Washington) sent a similar letter on Tuesday requesting a nationwide extension of open enrollment to Jan. 31.

“The Administration’s decision to depart from years of agency policy by ending open enrollment on December 15 is compounded by the many other efforts by this Administration to destabilize the insurance market, making it likely that many consumers miss this deadline and forgo insurance next year — all despite clear indications that consumers are highly interested in seeking coverage for 2018,” Wyden and Murray wrote.

When asked if Sec. Hargan would consider Cooper’s one-week extension, an HHS spokesperson replied simply that “the deadline for people to shop and pick a plan for the upcoming year is December 15. We continue to encourage people to make plan selections by that deadline so that their coverage can begin on January 1.”

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Taylor Knopf

Taylor Knopf writes about mental health, including addiction and harm reduction. She lives in Raleigh and previously wrote for The News & Observer. Knopf has a bachelor's degree in sociology with a...