Protect Our Care Held a Press Call to Discuss How President Trump’s Refusal to Open a Special ACA Enrollment Period Puts Millions of Americans at Risk 

Press Call Audio

Washington, DC — On a press call this morning, Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), former CMS Administrator Andy Slavitt along with Protect Our Care urged President Trump to open a special enrollment period to allow uninsured Americans to access health coverage under the ACA during the coronavirus crisis. So far, President Trump has refused to open a special ACA marketplace to allow the uninsured to purchase health insurance during the crisis, despite calls from health insurers and lawmakers to do so to slow the spread of the virus and save American lives.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has forced politicians and government officials of all political stripes to think outside the box, work together and set-aside rigid partisanship. The health, safety and well-being of all Americans must come first,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). “A special open enrollment period wouldn’t be a heavy lift for the Trump administration yet it would give millions of Americans access to health care coverage during the worst global pandemic since the 1918 Spanish flu. This is a time for national unity and bipartisanship, not narrow ideological agendas. It’s time for the Trump administration to move past its opposition to the ACA and the lifesaving health care coverage that it provides, and do what’s right for public health and safety.” 

“Nothing shows how important it is for all of our neighbors to have the health care they need then a pandemic,” said former CMS Administrator Andy Slavitt. “And yet, somehow, Trump still opposes the ACA’s insurance protections and pre-existing conditions protections.”

“President Trump is putting American lives at risk by refusing to allow the 27 million uninsured Americans the choice to get affordable health insurance through the Affordable Care Act at a time when people need health care the most,” said Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach. “Millions of uninsured Americans are facing unprecedented threats to their health due to coronavirus and the possibility of devastating health care bills, and still President Trump is blocking them from accessing affordable coverage through the ACA marketplace. If President Trump were serious about protecting the health and safety of the American people, he would immediately open enrollment and end his disastrous lawsuit that would rip health care away from 20 million Americans during a crisis.” 

BACKGROUND: 

Trump’s Sabotage Of The ACA Leaves The U.S. Less Prepared For Coronavirus

  • Trump Is Backing A Lawsuit That Could Rip Away Coverage From 20 Million People In The Middle Of The Outbreak. The Trump administration is currently backing a lawsuit that overturn the Affordable Care Act and, if they are successful, 20 million people would lose insurance overnight. The lawsuit also threatens protections for 135 million with pre-existing conditions. This means that anyone who contracts coronavirus – a potential pre-existing condition – could be charged more or denied coverage altogether by insurance companies. 
  • Trump’s Texas Lawsuit And Other Efforts To Repeal The ACA Would Cut Key Funding From The CDC. GOP repeal bills would have eliminated the Affordable Care Act’s Prevention and Public Health Fund. In 2017, the Washington Post reported that this fund “provides almost $1 billion annually to CDC, now about 12 percent of CDC’s budget. It includes prevention of bioterrorism and disease outbreaks, as well as money to provide immunizations and heart-disease screenings.” The Trump administration is currently supporting a lawsuit that could repeal the ACA in its entirety, and there is no plan to maintain this funding if the courts overturn the health care law. 
  • Trump Is Pushing Short-Term Junk Plans That Would Not Need To Cover Coronavirus Treatment. Junk plans do not need to comply with the consumer protections established by the Affordable Care Act, including coverage of essential health benefits. The expansion of junk plans under Trump has already led to reports of patients receiving thousands of dollars in unexpected medical bills: In February, a Florida man covered by Trump-backed short-term plan discovered he “may owe thousands” after he sought a test for coronavirus.
  • Efforts To Undermine Medicaid Expansion Threaten Coverage For Millions. In addition to seeking to repeal the health care law altogether, Trump has proposed measures that specifically target the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid. The administration has encouraged states to impose illegal work requirements on the expansion population that are designed to throw people off coverage. Additionally, under the Trump administration’s proposed block grant, federal funding would no longer necessarily increase in response to a public health emergency. This could lead to people losing coverage and access to care, undermining prevention and treatment of diseases nationwide.
  • Thanks In Part To His Sabotage Of The ACA, The Uninsured Rate Is Rising Under Trump. Between cutting funding for education and outreach to imposing Medicaid work requirements, Trump has made it harder to enroll in coverage. Uninsured individuals are far less likely to seek medical treatment when they are sick. At least 7 million people have already lost coverage under Trump, and experts warn that recent enactment of anti-immigration policies will only serve to deter more people from gaining coverage and seeking medical treatment.