President Joe Biden was set to sign an executive order Thursday that creates a special enrollment period for Obamacare.
“Based on this Executive Order, it is expected that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will open HealthCare.gov for a ‘Special Enrollment Period,’ from February 15, 2021 — May 15, 2021. This Special Enrollment Period will give Americans that need health care coverage during this global pandemic the opportunity to sign up,” according to a fact sheet on the White House website.
“As we continue to battle COVID-19, it is even more critical that Americans have meaningful access to affordable care,” the fact sheet said.
“The actions the President is taking today complement the commitment he made in the American Rescue Plan to make health insurance coverage more affordable for millions of Americans. Reliable and affordable access to health insurance doesn’t just benefit families’ health; it is a critical source of economic security and peace of mind for all.”
Biden was vice president when the Affordable Care Act was passed during the administration of former President Barack Obama.
In its reporting on the order, Politico said it was “unclear how many will take advantage of the new enrollment season. “
The last annual sign-up period attracted 8.3 million enrollments, which is essentially the same as in the past.
The New York Times reported that Biden’s administration is planning to spend big-time on advertising to boost enrollments.
The order allows enrollment in existing health care options but provides no funds to pay for them.
The executive order also does not create any type of what Biden has termed a “public option” that would increase government subsidies of health care insurance costs. Major expansions of Obamacare, which Biden has said he supports, will require congressional approval.
Heather Boushey, a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said Wednesday that the open enrollment period will be a game-changer.
“Opening this up for Americans right now in the middle of a health crisis is a way to ensure more people can get access to the health insurance they need,” she told MSNBC. “People need access to health care.”
The fact sheet said the order will also spur federal agencies “to reconsider rules and other policies that limit Americans’ access to health care, and consider actions that will protect and strengthen that access.”
Policies that will come under scrutiny include those that establish any work requirements for Medicaid or Obamacare coverage, “undermine protections for people with pre-existing conditions” or “make it more difficult to enroll in Medicaid and the ACA.”
Speaking about work requirements for Medicaid, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday that “President Biden does not believe, as a principle, it should be difficult … for people to gain access to health care,” according to The Associated Press.
“He’s not been supportive in the past, and is not today, of putting additional restrictions in place.”
The fact sheet claims the order is necessary after “four years of attempts to strip health care from millions of Americans.”
“For President Biden, this is personal. He believes that every American has a right to the peace of mind that comes with knowing they have access to affordable, quality health care.”
In summing up Biden’s expected executive actions Thursday, which will also include policy changes to end the Trump administration’s restrictions on abortion via a presidential memorandum, the fact sheet proclaimed: “These actions demonstrate a strong commitment by the Biden-Harris Administration to protect and build on the Affordable Care Act, meet the health care needs created by the pandemic, reduce health care costs, protect access to reproductive health care, and make our health care system easier to navigate and more equitable.”
Former President Donald Trump had tried to limit or abolish Obamacare.
The Supreme Court is expected to rule on a Trump administration-backed challenge to the program later this year.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.