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Trump Administration Decides Against COVID-19 ACA Special Enrollment Period

An estimated 100,000 Maine residents remain uninsured.(Wavebreak/iStockphoto)
An estimated 100,000 Maine residents remain uninsured.(Wavebreak/iStockphoto)
April 2, 2020

AUGUSTA, Maine - Health care advocates are speaking out on the Trump administration's decision against a special enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act, which would have made it easier to get subsidized health care plans during the COVID-19 crisis.

The administration doesn't want to undermine its lawsuit that seeks to overturn the health care law.

But from Kate Ende, policy director for Consumers for Affordable Health Care in Augusta, says the move is wrongheaded.

"Right now it's more important than ever that we strengthen the health care law and its protections and increase access to care and not limit it," she states.

Very low-income families can still apply for MaineCare. And people with a qualifying event, such as a recent job loss or marriage, can apply for subsidized plans via the federal marketplace, Healthcare.gov.

A special open enrollment period would have been very helpful to people who missed the annual open enrollment on Healthcare.gov last fall, but now want coverage in light of the COVID-19 crisis.

Eliot Fishman, senior director of health policy for Families USA, says people who have recently lost their job will have to submit documents to prove it before applying for an ACA plan -- an extra step that would have been waived in a special enrollment period.

"It is a difficult time to have another documentation and application process when really the option was right there to just open up enrollment generally," he states.

People who want to explore their options can also go to Coverme.gov or call the helpline set up by Consumers for Affordable Health Care, which is 800-965-7476.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - ME