President Biden signed an executive order on Thursday that will reopen enrollment in many of the Affordable Care Act marketplaces in an effort to expand health insurance coverage.
“There’s nothing new that we’re doing here other than restoring the Affordable Care Act and restoring the Medicaid to the way it was before Trump became president,” Biden said. He criticized the former president’s efforts to make it “more inaccessible, more expensive and more difficult” for people to qualify for the programs which had been widely expanded under the Obama administration.
The move is a blow to former President Trump who had campaigned on a promise to “repeal and replace” Obamacare — an effort that was largely unsuccessful after he repeatedly failed to deliver on his pledge to overhaul the nation’s health insurance system.
The “special enrollment period,” comes after former President Trump’s administration also did little to advertise the ACA insurance marketplace’s six-week enrollment period that closed in mid-December for 2021 coverage.
During its first two years, the Trump administration gutted money for advertising and for community groups that helped people enroll, seeing such an effort as wasteful.
Biden’s executive order to reopen enrollment for a three-month period, extending from Feb. 15 and May 15, may help people who have lost coverage in the past year due to the pandemic. Enrollment will be open, however, to those seeking health insurance for any reason, in any of the 36 states that use Healthcare.gov.
A majority of the roughly 15 million Americans uninsured and eligible for marketplace coverage would qualify for some form of financial assistance if they purchased coverage.
In addition to helping those who lost jobs, the move could also provide an opportunity for Americans who were uninsured before to seek coverage now because of the health threats posed by the ongoing pandemic.
The executive order also directs federal agencies to review rules and other policies that limit access to health care, including for pre-existing conditions, and to reconsider Trump-era changes that reduce coverage or serve to undermine ACA and Medicaid, including imposed work requirements.
Biden also signed a presidential memorandum aimed at reversing what Biden called “my predecessor’s attack on women’s health access.”
The action will rescind what has been referred to as the Mexico City policy, which bars nonprofits abroad from receiving federal family planning aid if they provide abortion counseling or referrals.