It seems the Trump administration’s chickens have come home to roost regarding their attempts to deter the 2020 Affordable Care Act (ACA) enrollment in November and December of last year. According to a spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), “CMS is evaluating offering a special enrollment period specifically designated for COVID-19.”
As the unemployment rate has spiked in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and millions of American businesses having to shutter their doors many Americans are finding themselves potentially without their employer provided coverage. While jobs numbers will not be available until April, early predictions differ wildly ranging anywhere from 500,000 to upwards of 5 million. This increase in the unemployment rate coupled with the nearly 30 million Americans who are already uninsured not only speaks directly to weaknesses in the American healthcare system, it also threatens to further ignite the public health powder keg that is COVID-19 if not immediately addressed.
A number of states and health insurers are pressing the Trump administration and the federal government to reopen ACA enrollment, stating “The American people need the peace of mind of knowing that their health and financial futures are secure. That means knowing that they can count on their health care coverage when they need it most.” In a letter to the House and Senate, going on to outline the need for coverage to be affording stating, “Congress should create new funding to support coverage for those who lose their jobs due to the crisis, by providing a 90% subsidy for COBRA or other insurance coverage.”
As COVID-19 cases increase in the US insurers are quaking at the potential cost of covering such an influx of patients at one time. “Establish a temporary, emergency risk mitigation program to ensure that health care premiums do not spike, and that benefits are stable in the future.” The letter goes on to implore, “Health insurance providers are covering COVID-19 tests and needed treatments. As more people seek coverage and care due to this pandemic, this temporary, emergency program would protect Americans from the consequences of potentially catastrophic costs. This should be structured as a backstop contingency program that is triggered only if real-world health insurer costs are significantly higher than expected.”
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The letter also goes on to advocate for emergency funding to hospitals, support for independent health care providers, and enhanced funding for testing and treatment of COVID-19-related conditions for the uninsured.