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Citing GOP Health Care Lawsuit, Washington Republicans Refuse to Reopen Health Care Enrollment — Blocking Uninsured Americans from Getting Coverage

At the Same Time, Republican Efforts to Undermine and Block Medicaid Expansion Deliver “Gut Punch” to Millions of Americans

The Trump administration announced last night that it will not reopen enrollment in the Affordable Care Act’s federal health insurance marketplace, despite the growing coronavirus pandemic — a move that will make it harder for Americans who need to obtain health care now amid broad economic turmoil, mass layoffs, and a growing public health crisis.

According to a new report from the New York Times, “the president’s support for a federal lawsuit that would overturn the entire law” was a factor in the administration’s decision to refuse to reopen ACA enrollment. After voting for the tax law that set this toxic lawsuit in motion, not one Republican senator has taken meaningful steps to stop their party’s efforts to dismantle the entire health care law and end protections for pre-existing conditions through the courts. President Trump confirmed in recent days that the GOP still wants to “terminate” the health care law as they plow ahead with a challenge that will soon be heard by the Supreme Court.

That lawsuit is not the only health care problem caused by Republicans hampering the coronavirus response. GOP opposition to fully expanding Medicaid under the ACA has been a “gut punch” to the millions of uninsured Americans in the 14 states — including Alabama, Georgia, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas — that have rejected billions of dollars in federal money to expand health care coverage. Senate Republicans have repeatedly supported efforts to gut and undermine federal funding for Medicaid expansion.

“The dangerous refusal by Republicans to reopen the federal health exchange or expand Medicaid will leave millions of anxious Americans uninsured and potentially responsible for medical bills if they seek treatment for coronavirus,” said DSCC spokesperson Stewart Boss. “Every Republican senator must answer for the president’s irresponsible decision to put the health and economic security of their constituents further at risk for a political agenda, by preventing uninsured coronavirus patients from having access to the affordable health care they need right now to get through this crisis.”

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

POLITICO: Trump rejects Obamacare special enrollment period amid pandemic

  • The Trump administration has decided against reopening Obamacare enrollment to uninsured Americans during the coronavirus pandemic, defying calls from health insurers and Democrats to create a special sign-up window amid the health crisis.
  • President Donald Trump and administration officials recently said they were considering relaunching HealthCare.gov, the federal enrollment site, and insurers said they privately received assurances from health officials overseeing the law’s marketplace.
  • The annual enrollment period for HealthCare.gov closed months ago, and a special enrollment period for the coronavirus could have extended the opportunity for millions of uninsured Americans to newly seek out coverage.
  • The Trump administration oversees enrollment for about two-thirds of states.
  • Trump confirmed last week he was seriously considering a special enrollment period, but he also doubled down on his support of a lawsuit by Republican states that could destroy the entire Affordable Care Act, along with coverage for the 20 million people insured through the law.
  • Short-term health insurance alternatives promoted by Trump, which allow enrollment year-round, is also an option for many who entered the crisis without coverage. Those plans offer skimpier coverage and typically exclude insurance protections for preexisting conditions… The quality of the plans vary significantly and, depending on the contract, insurers can change coverage terms on the fly and leave patients with exorbitant medical bills.

New York Times: Obamacare Markets Will Not Reopen, Trump Decides

The move would have made it easier for people who have recently lost jobs to obtain health insurance.

  • The Trump administration has decided against reopening the Affordable Care Act’s Healthcare.gov marketplaces to new customers, despite broad layoffs and growing fears that people will be uninsured for the coronavirus.
  • The option to reopen markets, in what is known as a special enrollment period, would have made it easier for people who have recently lost jobs or who had already been uninsured to obtain health insurance. The administration has established such special enrollment periods in the past, typically in the wake of natural disasters.
  • The administration had been considering the action for several weeks, and President Trump mentioned such conversations in a recent news briefing. But according to a White House official, those discussions are now over.
  • Under current law, people who lose job-based insurance already qualify to enroll for health insurance on the marketplaces, but are required to provide proof that they lost their coverage. A special enrollment period would have made it easier for such people to enroll, because it would not require that paperwork. It also would have provided a new option for people who chose not to buy health insurance this year but want it now.
  • … federal action would have been required to allow customers to re-enter the markets in the 38 states with markets run by Healthcare.gov. or that use the federal platform.
  • [One insurance executive] described the administration as divided about whether to proceed, especially given the president’s support for a federal lawsuit that would overturn the entire law.

Axios Vitals: 1 big thing: Medicaid will be a coronavirus lifeline

  • Medicaid will be a lifeline for droves of Americans affected by the coronavirus pandemic, Axios’ Bob Herman reports.
  • Why it matters: Medicaid has long been the safety net that catches people during hard times, but a crisis of this magnitude will call upon the program… like never before.
  • The big picture: Millions of people have already filed for unemployment amid the coronavirus-induced economic shutdown, and many of them will end up on Medicaid.
  • The program will pick up many people who lost their income and their health insurance together, as well as people who lost jobs that didn’t provide health insurance, and potentially some people who are still working and need medical care but aren’t insured.
  • Medicaid is not the only option, but it’s the biggest one.
  • The intrigue: Partially due to the ACA, hospitals and health centers can sign up uninsured patients for Medicaid on the spot if they think those patients are likely to be eligible.
  • A gut punch: Medicaid won’t be much help to most people in the 14 states that did not expand the program under the ACA.

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