WASHINGTON, D.C. -

Congressman Dr. Raul Ruiz led a letter with 23 members of Congress pressing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to extend the enrollment period for individuals and families who made a good-faith effort to buy health insurance before the enrollment deadline, but were unable due to technical malfunctions, application processing delays, and implementation issues.

Here's the full text of the letter:

The Honorable Kathleen Sebelius
Secretary of Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, DC 20201
Dear Madam Secretary:

Since the start of open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act, more than 5 million Americans have enrolled in coverage through the new health insurance marketplaces, millions more have enrolled in Medicaid, and no American can be discriminated against because of a pre-existing condition. However, we are concerned about individuals who made good-faith efforts to enroll in health insurance plans before the March 31, 2014 deadline, but were confused or unable to do so because of problems they encountered in the sign up process. We respectfully request that you use your authority as Secretary of Health and Human Services under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 to grant a special enrollment period for a limited time beyond the March 31, 2014 deadline for individuals who made a good-faith effort to buy health insurance before the enrollment deadline and were denied this opportunity through no fault of their own.

Hardworking families, who are able to afford health insurance coverage but remain uninsured for a substantial portion of the year, may stand to pay a fee for not obtaining health insurance. These fees are an unfair burden if they apply to hardworking families who need insurance but, through no fault of their own, faced barriers to enrollment. These barriers to enrollment include technical malfunctions and application processing delays by insurance companies, which can lead to confusion over the law and its requirements. While we understand that some Americans will qualify for a special enrollment period, we ask that you use your authority under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 to protect those whose good-faith efforts would have led to the buying of health insurance if not for problems with the rollout of the program. We ask that you put people first to give working families an opportunity to obtain the health insurance they need, rather than pay a fee they do not deserve.

Granting this request will achieve two very important goals: It will maximize enrollment efforts that are currently accelerating, and it will allow those who seek affordable health insurance adequate time to overcome the barriers they encountered during the enrollment process and make the important health care decisions that are right for their families. We strongly urge you to grant a special enrollment for these working families for a limited time to ensure they have access to quality, affordable health care.

Sincerely,

Raul Ruiz, M.D.
Member of Congress

Tony Cardenas
Member of Congress

Ron Barber
Member of Congress

Joe Garcia
Member of Congress

Cheri Bustos
Member of Congress

Ami Bera
Member of Congress

Patrick Murphy
Member of Congress

Ann McLane Kuster
Member of Congress

Ann Kirkpatrick
Member of Congress

Julia Brownley
Member of Congress

Scott H. Peters
Member of Congress

Kyrsten Sinema
Member of Congress

Jim Matheson
Member of Congress

Pete Gallego
Member of Congress

Daniel Maffei
Member of Congress

Steven Horsford
Member of Congress

Bruce Braley
Member of Congress

Tim Bishop
Member of Congress

Dina Titus
Member of Congress

William Enyart
Member of Congress

Bill Foster
Member of Congress

Lois Capps
Member of Congress

Carol Shea-Porter
Member of Congress

Bradley Schneider
Member of Congress