A recent Washington Post article highlighted the importance of increased access to health insurance, made possible by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), during the catastrophic COVID-19 pandemic. Citing federal data, the article reports that about 8.2million people signed up for health plans for 2021, with 1.8 million of them new participants.
The high enrollment numbers come despite repeated attacks and sabotage of the ACA by the current administration. The Center for Medicare Advocacy (Center) has been tracking these attacks, which have included shortening the amount of time to enroll in a plan, slashing funding for enrollment assistance and outreach; and removing critical consumer assistance information from healthcare.gov. Additionally, the Trump administration joined in a lawsuit with several states, which could dismantle the entire ACA. The Center strongly opposed the meritless lawsuit, and submitted an amicus brief with AARP and Justice in Aging. The Center released a series of CMA Alerts cataloguing the grievous harms dismantling the ACA would have for Medicare beneficiaries. A decision from the Supreme Court is expected in 2021.
Reports have asserted that the incoming Biden administration may expand access to ACA insurance marketplaces beyond the open enrollment period to aid individuals who have lost their employer-based insurance during the economic crisis tied to the pandemic. Additionally, the incoming administration could restore funding for enrollment assistance and outreach to notify people of new enrollment opportunities.
January 7, 2021 – K. Kertesz.