March 20, 2020

Contact: Stephen Eisele

(417) 848-3285 |

Washington, D.C. — Moments ago, more than 200 organizations sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex M. Azar II, and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma urging them to expand opportunities for Americans to enroll in health coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) health insurance marketplace.

With the coronavirus causing health and financial crises nationwide, 207 leading national, state, and local organizations are calling on the federal government to create an emergency, 60-day special enrollment period (SEP), in states, and to encourage state-based exchanges to do so as well. During this 60 day period, anyone who wishes to enroll in coverage could select a plan outside of the traditional enrollment period that runs from November 1 to December 15 of every year.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the vast shortcomings of our nation’s health system and the critical importance of affordable coverage and care for all,” said Emily Stewart, Executive Director of Community Catalyst, another group leading the organizing effort. “The best way to stem the deepening impact of the crisis is to take care of the people who have faced unjust barriers to economic security and health care, including disproportionate numbers of people of color. Today, we join more than 200 organizations to demand an emergency special enrollment period so that people across the country can access critical care in this time of need.”

Along with open a 60 day SEP period, the organizations also called for HHS to:

  • Waive any verification processes that would delay critical access to coverage
  • Invest significant resources in educating the public about this SEP through digital and television ads
  • Create materials in multiple languages, accessible formats for people with disabilities, and resources for hard-to-reach populations to give diverse populations access to this SEP
  • Engage application assisters who would help consumers sign up through the SEP
  • Focus significant outreach and advertising efforts to employers and employees most at-risk of losing employer-based coverage.

“With every passing day, it becomes even more apparent that the coronavirus will have deep, long-lasting impacts on our nation’s health, economy, and overall security,” said Erin Hemlin, Director of Health Policy and Advocacy for Young Invincibles, the organization that coordinated the letter. “As young people work to stay healthy and financially secure, it’s as important as ever that they have quality, affordable health insurance to help blunt the impact of any medical costs that they incur during this crisis. Now is the time for the Trump Administration to cast aside its ideological opposition to the Affordable Care Act and use every tool they have available to expand access to the coverage that people need. We’re eager and ready to work with the Administration to ensure every young person can stay healthy and secure as they navigate this pandemic.”

You can read the full letter and a list of signing organizations here.