Trump rejects opening ObamaCare special enrollment period amid coronavirus outbreak

The Trump administration will not open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) amid the coronavirus pandemic despite calls for a new sign-up period from congressional Democrats and the insurance industry, The White House confirmed.

President Trump and other White House officials had said they were considering a relaunch of, but a White House official told Politico on Tuesday that the administration had decided against a special enrollment period and was “exploring other options.”

Despite the decision, the ACA — better known as ObamaCare — provides for a special enrollment period for those who have recently lost their employer-based health plans, meaning some people who have lost their insurance due to the pandemic may still be able to sign up through the portal.

While the White House oversees enrollment for about two-thirds of states, several Democratic state governments have already reopened enrollment in state-run marketplaces, Politico reported. Trump said last week that he was considering reopening enrollment, but he affirmed that he still supports an ongoing administration lawsuit that would undo the entire law.

Those who have lost their jobs also have the option to extend their employer-based plans through the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act — also known as COBRA — but that option frequently proves cost-prohibitive for people who have just lost their main sources of income. About two-thirds of states have also expanded Medicaid under the ACA.

After initial hesitation within the insurance industry about the possibility of reopening enrollment, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the top health insurance lobbyist, endorsed a special enrollment period two weeks ago, Politico reported.

AHIP also called on lawmakers to expand ACA subsidies to middle-income Americans, but the expansion was ultimately not included in the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package passed by Congress and signed by Trump last week. Insurers reportedly expected Trump to announce an enrollment period based on conversations with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services officials, according to the news outlet.

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