President Joe Biden will sign two executive actions Thursday designed to expand health care coverage amid the coronavirus pandemic, as well as removing Trump administration restrictions on abortion access.
In his first steps to address health care access, Biden will direct the Department of Health and Human Services to open a special enrollment period for HealthCare.gov, the federally run insurance marketplaces, from Feb. 15 to May 15, giving Americans who lost their jobs and employer-based insurance during the pandemic a chance to sign up for coverage.
Former President Donald Trump resisted calls for a special enrollment period for people who became uninsured during the pandemic and repeatedly sought to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration’s signature health care reform law. The ACA, or Obamacare, provides health insurance to more than 23 million people.
“For President Biden, this is personal,” the White House said in a statement. “As we continue to battle COVID-19, it is even more critical that Americans have meaningful access to affordable care.”
Nearly 9 million uninsured Americans could get free or subsidized health insurance through the special enrollment period, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health research organization.
Through an outreach campaign expected to include advertising and partnerships with local organizations, the administration hopes to enroll people who may not be aware they’re eligible for coverage.
The president will also direct federal agencies to reexamine policies that undermine Obamacare, make it difficult for Americans to enroll in Medicaid or ones that reduce the affordability of coverage or protections for those with pre-existing conditions.