WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) is leading 24 Senators urging the Trump Administration to open ACA enrollment in exchanges such as HSRI so people can buy health insurance, limiting COVID-19 costs.
U.S. Sen. Jack Reed is urging the Trump Administration to open ACA enrollment in exchanges such as HSRI so people can buy a plan and limit COVID-19 costs.
About 27.5 million Americans lack health insurance, and more are underinsured or have so-called “junk” plans, which could still leave them facing expensive medical bills if hospitalized for treatment for COVID-19 or other health issues. Allowing people to purchase a plan now through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) could help individuals while improving public health and making things safer for entire communities, Reed said in a statement about the idea.
“We are deeply concerned that individuals and families will be forced to choose between getting tested and seeking care for COVID-19 to protect themselves, their families, and communities from further spread and being left with thousands of dollars in bills that they are unable to pay,” said the senators, who included RI Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) in a letter to the Trump Administration.
When the uninsured or underinsured are unable to pay their medical bills, health care providers are left to make up the shortfall, the letter continued. Health care providers are already relying on emergency resources to pay for increased capacity and medical supplies in order to be prepared for further spread of COVID-19, the Senators wrote.
“As such, and given the ongoing unprecedented public health crisis, we ask that HHS and CMS work to establish special enrollment periods for anyone seeking individual or family coverage through the health exchanges. Having comprehensive, affordable coverage is essential to ensure the health and well-being of the American people, particularly given the lack of access to testing for the COVID-19 and the uncertain trajectory of the outbreak. It is imperative for patients to receive covered care, regardless of whether they test positive or negative for the virus. Patients should not feel the need to avoid care out of fear of incurring medical bills they cannot afford.”
Lindsay Lang, director of HSRI, the state’s ACA insurance exchange, lauded the effort.
“We applaud the effort led by Senators Reed, Whitehouse, and their colleagues to ensure that as many Americans as possible get covered during this public health emergency. Given Governor Raimondo’s emergency declaration here in RI and the commitment of our state to public health, we are actively considering similar measures that we may be able to implement at the state level. “
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