As the Affordable Care Act reaches its 10th anniversary of being signed into law, at least eight states are reopening their Obamacare health insurance marketplaces in response to the coronavirus pandemic. On Saturday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said the federal government may do the same by allowing for a special enrollment period in the 32 states where it operates the health care marketplaces.
The HealthCare.gov exchanges overseen by the Trump administration closed on December 15. Ordinarily, new enrollees have to wait until the next enrollment period in the fall to sign up for coverage, but CMS said it was weighing the need to reopen the exchanges as millions of Americans face job – and health insurance – loss at a time when access to testing and treatment is more important than ever.
The eight states already allowing new enrollments – Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, Rhode Island and Washington – run their own health exchanges, according to Kaiser Health News, giving them more flexibility to set their own rules. A ninth state, California, has not closed its exchange this year and will allow people to sign up for health coverage through June. Those who sign up for new plans should have coverage by April 1.
More than 28 million Americans are currently uninsured, and that number could grow rapidly as layoffs mount in the coming weeks. The Trump administration is currently backing a lawsuit that would overturn the Affordable Care Act in its entirety, potentially removing coverage from about 20 million people.