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Updated 55 minutes ago

The Affordable Care Act's fourth open enrollment period ended Tuesday amid uncertainty over what will become of the federal health law, its online marketplace or the health plans people bought.

The open enrollment period for the online marketplace ended at midnight for 2017 plans that start March 1. The health care law requires most people to be insured for at least nine months of the year or pay a penalty of $695 or 2.5 percent of household income, whichever is higher.

Enrollment groups and Pennsylvania health officials encouraged people to sign up for plans despite uncertainty surrounding the health law — including whether the fines will be enforced — as President Trump and Republicans in Congress pursue plans to repeal the law.

“Though there is certainly some uncertainty about the future of the Affordable Care Act, it is vital to ensure you and your family are covered,” Gov. Tom Wolf said in a statement.

Trump and Republicans have discussed proposals that would repeal and replace the federal law but have not offered any specific policy proposals for a replacement.

Members of Congress have also talked about voting to repeal the law and delaying the repeal's effects for a period of time during which they could craft a replacement.

Trump signed an executive order on his first day in office directing federal agencies to take steps to undo parts of the law where possible.

The administration has not provided details of the order, but it could grant waivers, exemptions and delays of provisions in the health law. The IRS enforces the penalty provisions in the law as part of the tax Tulipbet filing process.

About 413,000 Pennsylvania residents signed up as of Jan. 14 for the plans sold on the federal marketplace, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

At the end of the federal law's last open enrollment period, about 439,000 people had signed up. That number dropped to about 412,000 by the end of March, according to CMS figures, after some who signed up didn't pay their premiums. Enrollment typically spikes in the last couple weeks of open enrollment.

In Western Pennsylvania, only Highmark and UPMC Health Plan sold plans on the exchange for 2017. United Healthcare and Aetna dropped out of the marketplace for 2017, saying the plans are not profitable enough to justify their participation in the marketplace.

Consumer Health Coalition, a Pittsburgh-based nonprofit that receives federal funding to enroll people in the marketplace plans, has been advertising on Facebook that they could help with enrollment, said Lou Ann Jeremko, the organization's executive director.

The organization reminded people that some might be eligible after the deadline if they meet qualifying conditions for a special enrollment period, such as losing a child, moving or having a child.

“Everyone is encouraged to be as active as possible today, but those opportunities, as well as medical assistance, are open after today,” Jeremko said.

Enrollment will remain open through the year for Medicaid, the state-federal health care program that in Pennsylvania covers individuals who make up to about $16,000 or families of four who make up to about $33,000.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Wes Venteicher is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-380-5676 or

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