Obamacare deadline hits, but the Panhandle makes no final push

Today marked the deadline to enroll for Obamacare, however an extension to April 7th has been given to those who sayâ??based on the honor systemâ??that they began the enrollment process before the deadline.

However, despite 33% of the Texas population being uninsured, the state has still been slow to sign up for the program. While certain Texas cities made final pushes for signing up on todayâ??s deadline, the Panhandle didnâ??t see any major event or push for the program. Area health care providers believe it could be because those seeking health care, and the providers themselves, are too confused by Obamacare.

â??Well, as a healthcare provider, Iâ??m not sure what to tell patients who ask me about itâ?¦You know there are incentives, meaning that people can have reduced premiums but itâ??s sort of not clear how that works so people who donâ??t have it, donâ??t have insurance, or they canâ??t afford it, or they donâ??t have it through their employers, arenâ??t really sure how to even go about it,â?? said Kirstin Kuhlmann, Director of the WTMU Health Partners Clinic.

Political opposition in Texas to the federal health care overhaul hasnâ??t helped enrollment numbers. Despite Texas being the uninsured capital of the United States, as of a few weeks ago, less than 10% of Texans had enrolled for Obamacare. Gov. Rick Perry and Republican leaders have continually expressed their lack of support for the program, and consequently, there has been little public information or promotion for the new program.

â??Itâ??s Obamacare, and weâ??re not a democratic state, for the most part. Governor Perry did not make a big push for it. He flat out said, â??Weâ??re not going to do it, weâ??re not going to set up our own exchange. If you want to do it, Obama, fine, set up your own exchange and weâ??ll use that.â?? We did not expand Medicaid like Obama wanted everybody to do. Perry was very adamant he wanted to be hands off, he didnâ??t want to be a part of it,â?? said Toby Meason, a local insurer and president of the Panhandle Health Association.

But the Texas Democrats say that regardless of political stance, the focus should still be on getting the information to people who need it and pushing for Texans to get insured.

â??People want the coverage, people need the coverage. Texas is the nationâ??s capital of the uninsured and we should be leading the way on making sure folks get coverage. Because this isnâ??t about politics. This is about people making sure they get the coverage they need,â?? said Emmanuel Garcia, Director of Communications for the Democrats of Texas.

To find out more information or to better understand whether the new law applies to you, what it could mean if you enroll, or if you will be facing penalties visit