Jul 15, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: HHS launches campaign to bolster ACA sign-ups before Aug. 15 deadline

Joe Biden in the oval office

President Biden in the Oval Office. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration plans to launch a massive campaign Thursday to get more Americans to sign up for the Affordable Care Act — 30 days before the Aug. 15 deadline to do so.

Driving the news: Administration officials announced Wednesday more than 2 million people have signed up for health insurance during the special enrollment period using both federal and state marketplaces.

  • The agency also noted Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program now cover more than 81 million Americans.
  • The new sign-ups pushed the number of ACA enrollees to an all-time high, though Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure said the final enrollment count will be available soon.

Details: The campaign, called the “Summer Sprint to Coverage,” will feature testimonial ads in English and Spanish on local cable, radio and online platforms during peak audience times including while the Olympics air.

  • The administration did not specify a goal for the number of sign-ups, but it aims to generally reach as many people as possible, particularly within populations that traditionally have been uninsured, cannot afford coverage or have less access to coverage, according to an HHS official.
  • CMS is increasing community and partner outreach with "navigators," licensed agents and trusted messengers.

What they're saying: "More than a decade after the landmark passage of the Affordable Care Act, as we emerge from a once-in-a-century pandemic, we are on our way to truly making health care a right and not a privilege," President Biden plans to say in a statement on Thursday.

The big picture: The White House has also been pushing Congress to expand Medicare benefits, close the Medicaid coverage gap and extend the lower premiums enabled by the American Rescue Plan.

  • Senate Democrats on Wednesday revealed that their $3.5 trillion budget would include a new dental, vision and hearing benefit to Medicare, extend expansions of the Affordable Care Act, expand home care, reduce prescription drugs costs, and expand Medicaid coverage to states that haven't done so yet.

What to watch: HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said Wednesday extending the deadline is not off the table but "something we can discuss."

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