Shaheen & Murphy Call on Trump Admin to Reopen the ACA Marketplace, Allow Seniors to Access Medicare During COVID-19 Pandemic

August 09, 2020

(Washington, DC) — U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) sent a letter with a group of Senators calling on President Trump to reopen the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) marketplace to allow more people to enroll in health insurance and access federal subsidies, and to take steps to ensure seniors can enroll in Medicare coverage as they disproportionately face potential health issues related to COVID-19. In the letter, the Senators requested Trump authorize an ACA Special Enrollment Period (SEP), which would allow those who did not sign up for insurance during the regular enrollment period a window to obtain comprehensive health insurance. The House-passed HEROES Act includes opening an ACA SEP, which the signers support. This letter comes after Shaheen and Murphy previously urged U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar to reopen the online ACA marketplace in April, to which the administration failed to act.

The Senators wrote, “…more than three months since our original request, and with the benefit of additional data, we write with renewed urgency to request that you authorize an SEP for the ACA and to ensure guaranteed access to Medicare coverage for seniors and retirees.”

“Given everything we know about COVID-19 and how it has devastated our seniors, it is essential that all older Americans can secure access to health coverage—without gaps or delay. We urge your Administration to take immediate steps, through equitable relief or other mechanisms available to you, to ensure seniors can enroll in Medicare and access their earned benefits,” the Senators continued.

The Senators concluded, “We urge that you take seriously the challenges that millions of people are facing in our country and reopen enrollment for the federally-run ACA Marketplace and to utilize the tools you have to ensure access to the Medicare Program.”                                                                                                                                          

The full text of the letter can be found here.

Senator Shaheen has worked to strengthen and expand access to health care for Americans in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. In March and April, Shaheen sent letters with her colleagues to urge the Trump administration to re-open the enrollment period to allow people without health insurance to purchase an Obamacare plan through the health insurance marketplaces. In May, Shaheen introduced legislation that would prevent individuals who are collecting enhanced federal unemployment compensation from losing access to financial assistance for the cost of premiums for ACA marketplace plans.

Shaheen has led efforts in Congress to protect and improve the ACA, including leading all 47 Senate Democrats on a Senate resolution that would reverse the Department of Justice’s decision to side with U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor’s ruling that would strike down the ACA. This health care sabotage could result in 133 million Americans losing protections for pre-existing conditions, millions more Americans without health insurance, soaring prescription drug costs for seniors, and nearly 90,000 Granite Staters losing health care coverage. Instead of defending the law and its vital health care protections, the Trump administration’s DOJ chose to side with Texas and other states challenging our health care law last year, arguing that pre-existing condition protections are unconstitutional. The DOJ later expanded its position, arguing on the side of Judge O’Connor that the entire Affordable Care Act should be struck down.