Very low individual health exchange signups in NM

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By Barry Massey

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Fewer than 200 New Mexicans signed up for health insurance plans through a troubled federal online marketplace during its first month of operation, the Obama administration reported Wednesday.

The announcement by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services confirmed the enrollment that New Mexico officials had expected because of computer glitches that hampered the start of the federal health insurance exchange.

"Everybody is pretty frustrated with the feds," said Dr. J. R. Damron, chairman of the governing board of New Mexico's state-run insurance exchange that is handling enrollment of small businesses.

Fellow board member Jason Sandel expressed a harsher view and said he wants the state to more quickly take over enrolling individuals rather than waiting for the federal website to be fixed.

"I don't have any great hope that something is going to significantly improve in the next month or two. And at the end of the day, we have to get people enrolled on insurance. The infrastructure that's in place today, as I know it, isn't sufficient, isn't adequate and has been a failure," said Sandel. "The success of the New Mexico exchange is entirely dependent upon getting tens of thousands people enrolled as quickly as possible."

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