As coronavirus pandemic spreads, Trump refuses to reopen Affordable Care Act enrollment window for uninsured and under-insured, potentially blocking millions of Americans from accessing life-saving health coverage
WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic spreads and more Americans are struggling to make ends meet, the Trump administration is declining to throw them a lifeline by reopening enrollment in the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) federal exchanges. The decision not to reopen HealthCare.gov, which was first reported by Politico, will be a severe blow to Americans in about two-thirds of states that don’t run their own exchanges, including Wisconsin, and instead use the federal exchange to access HealthCare.gov.
U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin blasted the Trump administration’s refusal to relaunch HealthCare.gov, stating: “It is heartless for President Trump to lock out the uninsured and under-insured in Wisconsin. We should be giving them a chance to purchase an Affordable Care Act plan during this public health crisis. What makes it worse is that President Trump continues to push junk health insurance plans that don’t have to cover essential health benefits, and he still supports a lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act completely – during a pandemic. This lack of leadership will make things worse, not better, for Wisconsinites in need of quality, affordable health care coverage.”
On March 12, Senator Baldwin and 24 other Senators urged the Trump administration to open a special enrollment period to allow people without health insurance to purchase an ACA plan through the health insurance marketplaces.
Reopening the ACA enrollment period should not be a tough call: Even the health insurance industry backed a special one-time enrollment reopening and the federal government has opened special enrollment periods in the past during previous natural disasters.
While costs and treatments vary, a recent report by FAIR Health found that uninsured Americans with COVID-19 could pay an estimated average of $73,300 for a six-day hospital stay, which is about ten times more than someone with health insurance.
This past year, despite the fact that the Trump administration shortened the enrollment period and reduced public outreach, 8.3 million people still purchased or re-enrolled in Obamacare health plans using the HealthCare.gov platform during the 2020 open enrollment period, which the Trump administration closed on December 15, 2019.
Today, nearly 28 million Americans still lack health insurance. And the Trump-backed lawsuit to tear down the entire Affordable Care Act continues to go forward in the midst of the pandemic.