President Joe Biden is expected to take executive action as early as Thursday to reopen the Affordable Care Act marketplaces as well as to lower the barriers to enroll in Medicaid, the Washington Post reported today.
The action is aimed at helping the millions of Americans who lost their employer-related health coverage as the economy shed jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under one executive order, the ACA marketplace HealthCare.gov will reopen for at least a few months. Ordinarily, the open enrollment period for health coverage through the marketplace lasts for about six weeks near the end of the year.
The reopening of HealthCare.gov will be accompanied by more federal funds to draw attention to the opportunity through advertising and other outreach efforts. This alsoreverses the Trump administration's stance that supporting such outreach was wasteful. During Trump’s first two years in office, his administration cut money for advertising and for community groups known as navigators that helped people enroll.
In the early days of the pandemic, the health insurance industry and congressional Democrats urged the Trump administration to reopen the federal health care marketplace and give more people the opportunity to enroll in coverage. But at end of March, Trump health officials decided against that.
During the most recent enrollment period, which ended in mid-December, nearly 8.3 million people signed up for health plans in the states using HealthCare.gov. The figure is about the same as the previous year, even though it includes two fewer states, which began operating their own marketplaces.
The executive order relating to Medicaid is intended to reverse Trump-era changes that critics say damaged Americans’ access to the federal health insurance program for low-income citizens. It is unclear whether Biden’s order will undo a Trump-era rule allowing states to impose work requirements, or simply direct federal health officials to review rules to make sure they expand coverage to the program that insures about 70 million low-income people in the United States.