March 21, 2020

Shaheen, Hassan & Baldwin Call for No Junk Plans Act and Enrollment Assistance in Economic Stimulus Response Legislation

Legislation would overturn Trump’s expansion of junk health insurance plans that don’t provide comprehensive health care coverage

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread throughout the United States, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) are leading a letter to Senate leadership calling for the COVID-19 economic stimulus response legislation to include the No Junk Plans Act, as well as a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) and additional funding for outreach and enrollment. This would overturn the Trump administration’s expansion of junk health insurance plans that don’t have to provide comprehensive health care coverage and help ensure that Americans have the ability to sign up for coverage during this public health emergency.

In their letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, the Senators write, “During an outbreak, it is critical that all Americans have access to the health care services they need. Unfortunately, when an individual’s source of health coverage is a junk plan, out-of-pocket costs are often a serious concern. These plans, which have been actively promoted by the current Administration, are not required to comply with consumer protections that limit out-of-pocket costs or coverage of essential health benefits, including those that are needed to pay for the treatment and prevention of COVID-19 such as hospital care, emergency care, laboratory services, or preventive services. Their expansion leaves our public health system vulnerable. Furthermore, these plans expose American families, already struggling to make ends meet in light of the global economic downturn, to potential financial ruin.”

The letter also asks for the federal Health Insurance Marketplaces to immediately establish a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) for at least 60 days and provide additional funding for outreach and enrollment assistance, including the Navigator program administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Baldwin, Shaheen and others also called for this last week.

The Senators concluded, “Including this crucial legislation and establishing a SEP in a future legislative proposal to address the outbreak of COVID-19 would promote access to quality, affordable health care coverage when Americans and our larger public health system need it most. We request that you strongly consider this critical solution as you work together to develop a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The letter was also signed by Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT), Tina Smith (D-MN), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Ed Markey (D-MA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).

The full letter is available here.

 On Friday, Shaheen highlighted her list of critical health care priorities for the upcoming coronavirus response bill, which included a call for the expansion of coverage options for coronavirus treatment, including for Americans currently on “junk health insurance plans” and a provision allowing for a Special Enrollment Period in the ACA marketplace.  Shaheen and Hassan also sent a letter with New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu and the entire New Hampshire congressional delegation to President Trump, urging him to take additional action to swiftly deliver critical medical supplies and personal protective equipment to New Hampshire and states across the country.

Shaheen and Hassan have fought for and voted in favor of two economic response bills to provide financial relief to states in their response efforts, and to support workers, businesses and families impacted by the spread of the coronavirus. The President signed both bills into law. The first economic package led to New Hampshire receiving an initial $4.9 million in funds from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Shaheen is currently a lead negotiator on a third economic response bill, where she is working around the clock with Senators Rubio (R-FL), Cardin (D-MD) and Collins (R-ME) on provisions to assist small businesses impacted by the coronavirus crisis.