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Sebelius: ‘This Is Not An Extension Of Open Enrollment’

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Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius delivers remarks and answers questions during the U.S. Conference of Mayors on Jan. 22, 2014 in Washington, DC. (credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius delivers remarks and answers questions during the U.S. Conference of Mayors on Jan. 22, 2014 in Washington, DC. (credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius declares that the extra time the administration has granted for open enrollment for Obamacare is not an extension.

Speaking to KTVI-TV, Sebelius compared it to standing in line to vote.

“This is not an extension of open enrollment,” Sebelius explained. “It is just saying, like you do on election day, if you’re in line to vote, we want to make sure you vote.”

The Obama administration announced Tuesday that people will get extra time if they have applied for health insurance through exchanges but can’t finish the process before the March 31 open enrollment deadline.

Sebelius said that this is not open-ended and did not give a definitive date of how long it would last for.

“We’re urging people to do it as quickly as possible,” Sebelius told KTVI. “We want to make sure they can buy health insurance, if that’s what they want to do for themselves and their families and complete the process.”

The White House is scrambling to meet a goal of 6 million signed up through new online markets that offer subsidized private health insurance to people without access to coverage on the job. The HealthCare.gov website got more than 1 million visitors Monday, and the administration also wants to prevent a repeat of website problems that soured consumers last fall.

“We are experiencing a surge in demand and are making sure that we will be ready to help consumers who may be in line by the deadline to complete enrollment, either online or over the phone,” Health and Human Services spokesman Aaron Albright said.

Officials said the grace period will be available to people on the honor system , meaning applicants will have to attest that special circumstances or complex cases prevented them from finishing by March 31.

The Affordable Care Act marked its fourth anniversary this past week

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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