Dept. of Health Director: Obamacare Deadline is March 31

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, only 19 percent of eligible New Jersey residents have signed up for Obamacare and the deadline is March 31. U.S. Department of Health and Human Service Regional Director Dr. Jaime Torres told NJTV News Anchor Mary Alice Williams that 73,000 people in New Jersey have enrolled so far.

Torres said that he believes the system is working better than people think because more than 4.2 million people have enrolled nationally and 73,000 people have enrolled in New Jersey. He said that even though there were a lot of glitches at the beginning, a lot of progress has been made.

“The Medicaid expansion in New Jersey has been a blessing. We have deemed eligible for Medicaid, both through the marketplace and the Medicaid office, close to 230,000 people in the Garden State,” said Torres.

When asked why New Jersey did not make the February deadline, Torres said that the department had conversations with New Jersey about the program for more than a year and asked the state to submit a plan for approval based on regulations. What the state submitted was not approved so the grant that New Jersey would have received went back to the treasury.

“I cannot speak on behalf of the state. They were submitting things but they were not following the prescribed suggestions within the guidelines. We could not approve something that did not follow the requirements of the grant,” said Torres.

President Obama made a video on Funny or Die to promote Obamacare to the younger generations. Torres said that brought in a 40 percent increase of people visiting the health care website. “It shows that young people were listening, they were visiting the website, and we want to make sure we are doing everything we can to get the message out,” said Torres.

He said that if you are deemed eligible for Medicaid, you can enroll throughout the year and under special circumstance — such as losing a job, moving to the state or having a baby — you can still enroll throughout the year.

Torres said that you can enroll by calling 800-318-2596 or visiting or