Bloomberg Law
April 1, 2020, 3:56 AM

White House Will Not Reopen Obamacare Enrollment for Virus

Justin Sink
Justin Sink
Bloomberg News
John Harney
John Harney
Bloomberg News

President Donald Trump will not reopen the Obamacare exchanges to allow uninsured Americans to purchase health care coverage during the coronavirus pandemic, a White House official said Tuesday night.

The decision comes after the president said last week he was considering a special enrollment period to allow individuals to purchase insurance during the crisis -- a move that had been endorsed by America’s Health Insurance Plans, the trade organization representing health insurers.

Ultimately, however, the administration opted against a national mandate that would have mirrored steps that states like New York, California, Connecticut, and Maryland are taking. In New York, people without insurance “can apply within 60 days of losing coverage,” according to the state website.

The White House official requested anonymity to describe an internal policy decision.

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Trump has long opposed the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, and tried to repeal it early in his presidency. But he said last week that the administration would be “doing a lot of different things on health insurance.” He also responded to a question about expanding insurance subsidies or Medicaid checks by saying that many Americans would be receiving “very big checks” as part of the stimulus bill passed by Congress.

“We’re taking care of our people,” Trump said. “This is not their fault what happened, and we’re taking care.”

Ordinarily, uninsured individuals must purchase their coverage on the Obamacare exchanges between Nov. 1 and Dec. 15 for coverage beginning in the new year. The federal government has extended that period in the past, most notably during the rocky rollout of the website.

While the administration’s decision means that those who entered the year uninsured may have limited options for gaining coverage, Americans who lost a job with employer-provided health insurance could extend their plans for up to 18 months through the Cobra program. Those who lost their health insurance coverage also likely have 60 days to enroll in an Obamacare plan because of a qualifying life event.

The White House decision against reopening the exchanges was reported earlier by Politico.

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Justin Sink in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Kevin Whitelaw at

John Harney, Chelsea Mes

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