(Washington, DC)—U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan, along with 26 Senate Democrats on Tuesday, urged the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to reopen the Affordable Care Act’s online marketplace to allow more un- and under-insured Americans to get health insurance as they face potential health issues related to COVID-19. In a letter to the Secretary Alex Azar, the Senators urged HHS to allow Americans to enroll through a unique Special Enrollment Period (SEP) that should last throughout the duration of the pandemic in an effort to ensure comprehensive coverage for families and communities to protect themselves from COVID-related illness. The letter was led by Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI).
The Senators wrote, “Currently, millions of Americans are uninsured and anxious, not only about what the possibility of contracting COVID-19 could mean for their health and that of their family, but also for their financial stability. Opening up the ACA marketplace would provide an easy pathway to coverage for those who under previous circumstances may have decided to forego health insurance or purchase a substandard, junk insurance plan, but now in a global pandemic are in vital need of comprehensive coverage to protect themselves, their families, and our broader community.”
“We believe opening an ACA SEP is the clearest way to cover the millions of uninsured and underinsured Americans in the 38 states that use the federal platform, and to provide comprehensive protections for COVID-19-related treatment and prevention,” the Senators continued.
The Senators concluded, “We urge you to put aside the partisan politics of the past, and to expand health coverage to millions of Americans by opening an SEP expeditiously.”
A full text of the letter can be found here.
Shaheen and Hassan also called on the Trump Administration to re-open the enrollment period last month to allow people without health insurance to purchase an Obamacare plan through the health insurance marketplaces.