By Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Abby Goodnough and Margot Sanger-Katz
The New York Times, January 28, 2021
President Biden, seeking to expand access to health care and strengthen the Affordable Care Act, used his executive authority Thursday to order the reopening of enrollment in the health law’s marketplaces and a re-examination of Trump administration policies that undermined protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions.
His aim, he said in a brief signing ceremony in the Oval Office, was to “undo the damage Trump has done.”
Mr. Biden’s first step is to reopen enrollment for health coverage offered through the federal marketplace created under the health law, also known as Obamacare. His intent is to offer coverage not only to those who lost it during the pandemic, but also to those who did not have insurance and now want it, according to a senior administration official who previewed the new policy during a conference call Thursday morning.
The so-called special enrollment period will run from Feb. 15 to May 15. The official said the reopening would be accompanied by the kind of robust patient outreach — including “paid advertising, direct outreach to consumers and partnerships” with community organizations and advocacy groups — that was abandoned by the Trump administration.
Mr. Biden’s actions take aim at a number of Mr. Trump’s policies. In 2018, citing complaints about the price of Obamacare coverage, the Trump administration issued a rule that extended the length of less expensive “short” term policies from three months to up to three years. Such policies do not have to cover pre-existing conditions and can exclude common benefits like maternity care, mental health care or prescription drugs. The former administration also made it easier for small businesses to band together and offer plans that escape some of the requirements of the Affordable Care Act. Mr. Biden has asked federal agencies to re-examine these rules, which could take months to undo.
By Don McCanne, M.D.
Open the enrollment period. Plus undo a number of Mr. Trump’s policies. More of the same.
Tens of millions remain uninsured and tens of millions more are underinsured. We continue to waste hundreds of billions of dollars on private insurer-induced administrative excesses. Not a hint of what he might do about that. Instead, we’ll have many months to undo Trump’s policies so that we’ll be left with … what? The same old system that hasn’t been working for tens of millions of us.
Stay informed! Visit www.pnhp.org/qotd to sign up for daily email updates.