President Donald Trump and administration officials recently said they were considering relaunching HealthCare.gov, the federal enrollment site, and insurers said they privately received assurances from health officials overseeing the law's marketplace. However, a White House official on Tuesday evening told POLITICO the administration will not reopen the site for a special enrollment period, and that the administration is "exploring other options."
The annual enrollment period for HealthCare.gov closed months ago, and a special enrollment period for the coronavirus could have extended the opportunity for millions of uninsured Americans to newly seek out coverage. Still, the law already allows a special enrollment for people who have lost their workplace health plans, so the health care law may still serve as a safety net after a record surge in unemployment stemming from the pandemic.
Trump confirmed last week he was seriously considering a special enrollment period, but he also doubled down on his support of a lawsuit by Republican states that could destroy the entire Affordable Care Act, along with coverage for the 20 million people insured through the law.
Healthcare.gov is of course a product of the Affordable Care Act, which is also commonly referred to as Obamacare, a branding that has inspired a decade's worth of spite from Republican politicians determined to destroy the legacy of the first black president at all costs.
There are honestly few things in this world that baffle me as much as the vitriol that some conservatives feel about Obama's "If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor" quote. It's frequently referenced as evidence of his evilness or ineptitude or what-have-you — even though, as far as I'm aware, Obama was not knowingly lying to anyone when he offered that line of reassurance. That some people had their coverage change was the choice of healthcare providers, rather than a stipulation of the Affordable Care Act. Which is why I think that quote is such a strange hill to die on.
Especially when healthcare in this country is so intrinsically tied to employment. Most of the time you can't even keep your doctor when you change jobs.
As the Politico piece points out, special healthcare enrollment opportunities are still available by law for people who have recently lost their jobs due to the economic crash in the wake of the coronavirus epidemic. COBRA, the insanely over-priced healthcare extension service that is fittingly named for the terrorists from GI JOE, also remains an option for anyone who would like to pay a thousand-plus dollars per month for the opportunity to continue paying out-of-pocket for medical treatment as needed.
Trump rejects Obamacare special enrollment period amid pandemic [Susannah Luthi / Politico]
Image: Ted Eytan / Flickr (CC 2.0)