By Pension and Benefits Editorial Staff
In a letter[BL1] led by Reps. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-N.Y.) and Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn), sixty-five Democratic House lawmakers requested that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) provide an emergency special enrollment period in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) health insurance exchanges. The lawmakers note that as the COVID-19 pandemic continues gripping the nation, more individuals than ever need health insurance coverage.
“Now, more than ever, it is vital that our neighbors be able to secure health insurance, especially to cover costs associated with treatment and testing for coronavirus,” said Velázquez. “Sadly, in crises like these, the most vulnerable often suffer the greatest hardship. No one should be dissuaded from seeking treatment or testing for coronavirus due to costs. Given the unprecedented public health crisis facing the nation, it only makes sense to let more people enroll and obtain affordable care.”
Several states that operate their own exchanges have already opened special enrollments, allowing those without insurance to purchase a plan even without a life changing event, the usual requirement. Those states include California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. However, thirty-two states have federally-facilitated health insurance exchanges. Those states would need HHS and CMS to act for a special enrollment period to be opened.
According to the lawmakers, medical costs are already a common concern in the U.S., especially for individuals without coverage. “This is an unprecedent financial constraint that could prevent millions of people from seeing doctors to get tested or treated,” the letter concluded. “We urge HHS and CMS to establish a special enrollment period for the coronavirus and rightfully extend the opportunity for millions of uninsured Americans to newly seek out coverage.”
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