While the unemployment rate continues to rise, the Trump administration decided against reopening the Affordable Care Act enrollment period to help uninsured Americans get insured as the United States becomes the epicenter of COVID-19. Millions of Americans have lost their jobs and their employer-provided health insurance, Truthout reported.
The Trump administration said that Americans who have lost their jobs “qualify for help under existing programs,” Axios reported. A White House official said that Donald Trump is committed to providing a variety of coverage options and is currently exploring these other options.
“Americans should know that if they are temporarily unemployed, there are coverage options available to them, including COBRA and the individual Exchange, where individuals experiencing a qualifying event such as a job loss can enroll for coverage,” the official said.
But many who have filed for unemployment will most likely end up on Medicaid, Axios reported.
“The program will pick up many people who lost their income and their health insurance together, as well as people who lost jobs that didn’t provide health insurance, and potentially some people who are still working and need medical care, but aren’t insured,” Bob Herman, writer at Axios, said.
Progressive lawmakers criticize the Trump administration’s decision calling it a deliberate blocking of vulnerable Americans, which with have “negative consequences.”
“In the middle a pandemic that could kill hundreds of thousands, Trump and his toadies are deliberately blocking Americans from buying healthcare,” Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.Y.), said in a tweet. “Theirs is fanatical cruelty that will kill people.”
The coronavirus has exposed the for-profit healthcare system’s greed, Medicare for All advocates said.
“Corporate-run health insurance isn’t about saving lives,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and presidential candidate, said. “It’s about making as much money as possible. With Medicare for All we can finally put an end to this international disgrace.”
While the Trump administration refused to reopen enrollment nation-wide, eleven states that run their own Affordable Care Act exchanges already reopened enrollment, which ended in December 2019. California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia will now allow Americans who lost their job along with health coverage and any others who didn’t purchase insurance to do so for the year.
“There’s no economic or public health rationale to not open the doors wide in the face of the pandemic,” Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, said.