Apr 1, 2020 - Health

Trump admin won't reopen ACA enrollment for uninsured amid outbreak

 President Donald Trump speaks while flanked by Vice President Mike Pence during the daily coronavirus task force briefing in the Brady Briefing room at the White House on March 31

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The Trump administration has decided not to reopen enrollment to uninsured Americans for the Affordable Care Act's Healthcare.gov marketplaces, an official confirmed to Axios Wednesday.

Driving the news: President Trump said last week he was considering the move in response to the novel coronavirus outbreak, notes Politico, which first reported the news.

By the numbers: Nearly 28 million Americans remain uninsured, despite the insurance gains made under the Affordable Care Act, per Axios' Caitlin Owens.

The big picture: The Kaiser Family Foundation's Jen Kates told Owens uninsured people are more likely to rely on the emergency room and can overburden ERs during a pandemic, increasing the risk of exposure for uninfected patients waiting to receive care.

  • Millions of people have filed for unemployment amid the coronavirus-induced economic shutdown, and many of them will end up on Medicaid, notes Axios' Bob Herman.
  • "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," Herman said.

Between the lines: It is understood that administration officials decided against reopening enrollment because those who lose their jobs qualify for help under existing programs.

What they're saying: A senior administration official told Axios President Trump is committed to ensuring Americans have a broad variety of health insurance coverage options available to them, "especially during this time of economic disruption."

  • "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.
  • "The President is also very committed to supporting the uninsured who think they may have the COVID-19 virus. With the support of the Congress, President Trump is implementing a program to cover the costs of evaluating and testing those who think they may have the virus."

Of note: The Supreme Court is due to hear later this year a major case against the Affordable Care Act that's supported by the Trump administration, which argues that the entire ACA should be struck down.

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