President Joe Biden on Thursday signed an executive order reopening online health insurance marketplaces, allowing people to sign up in several weeks.
HealthCare.gov will open for a special enrollment period from Feb. 15 through May 15, giving Americans who don’t have insurance a chance to obtain some.
The open enrollment period for 2021 has already elapsed.
People in states with marketplaces served by the HealthCare.gov platform will be able to enroll in health coverage, the Department of Health and Human Services clarified in a statement. Enrollment can be done through the website, the Marketplace call center, or through direct enrollment channels. The administration will spend $50 million on outreach and education about enrolling.
The months of access is one way to “undo the damage that” former President Donald Trump “has done,” Biden told reporters in the White House’s Oval Office.
“There is nothing new that we are doing here other than restoring the Affordable Care Act and restoring the Medicaid to the way it was before Trump became president, which by fiat he changed and made it more inaccessible and more expensive and more difficult for people to qualify for either of those two items,” he added.
The COVID-19 pandemic makes it even more imperative to let Americans have more access to healthcare, Biden said.
Over 30 million Americans remain uninsured, according to federal health data.
The executive order also directs federal agencies to reconsider rules and policies that the administration alleges limit that access, including policies that undermine protections for people with pre-existing conditions, including complications related to COVID-19.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called the actions “a lifeline for millions of American families and a clear sign that our nation now has the leadership in the White House to turn these crises around.”
Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) said that Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, “led to higher premiums, fewer options for consumers and caused millions of Americans to lose the health insurance they preferred.”
“We eliminated Obamacare’s individual mandate giving patients better control of their health insurance. Today’s steps to expand Obamacare are steps reversing our progress. They do not move us forward, only backward,” he said in a statement.
Biden, amid strong pushback to his flurry of orders in the days since he was sworn into office, defended the two new ones.
“I’m not initiating any new law, any new aspect of the law. This is going back to what the situation was prior to the President’s executive orders,” he said.