Yep, I called it: CMS reverses itself, now refuses to launch SEP for HealthCare.Gov
Well, today I received a likely answer which is depressing but not surprising at all: According to my sources, there isn't any technical, logistical, personnel or support reasons why HealthCare.Gov couldn't launch a formal COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period at any time. The only logical conclusion is that the White House has decided not to allow one for political reasons.
...The more people who come to rely on the Affordable Care Act--especially the ACA exchange operated by the Trump Administration itself--the more difficult it's going to be to justify the Trump Administration continuing to support a lawsuit with the sole purpose of attempting to have the ACA struck down by the Supreme Court...which they're continuing to try and do even in the middle of a pandemic.
Susannah Luthi, Politico, 3/31/20, 5:19pm:
Trump rejects Obamacare special enrollment period amid pandemic
The Trump administration has decided against reopening Obamacare enrollment to uninsured Americans during the coronavirus pandemic, defying calls from health insurers and Democrats to create a special sign-up window amid the health crisis.
President Donald Trump and administration officials recently said they were considering relaunching HealthCare.gov, the federal enrollment site, and insurers said they privately received assurances from health officials overseeing the law's marketplace. However, a White House official on Tuesday evening told POLITICO the administration will not reopen the site for a special enrollment period, and that the administration is "exploring other options."
Insurers said they had expected Trump to announce a special enrollment period last Friday based on conversations they had with officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which runs HealthCare.gov enrollment. It wasn’t immediately clear why the Trump administration decided against the special enrollment period. CMS deferred comment to the White House.
Yes, I'm sure they did "defer comment to the White House." As I noted:
It's important to understand that it's not the CCIIO (Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight...that's the CMS division which actually operates HealthCare.Gov) which is to blame here. By all accounts they're trying to do their jobs properly, and again, I see no technical, logistical or operational reason why they wouldn't be able to do so. That responsibility lies at the top of the food chain: CMS Administrator Seema Verma; HHS Secretary Alex Azar; and Donald J. Trump.
Anyway, once again, 11 states + DC do have COVID-19 Special Enrollment Periods going on right now, including:
- California: thru 6/30
- Colorado: thru 4/03
- Connecticut: thru 4/02
- District of Columbia: thru 6/15
- Maryland: thru 6/15
- Massachusetts: thru 5/25
- Minnesota: thru 4/21
- Nevada: thru 4/15
- New York: thru 4/15
- Rhode Island: thru 4/15
- Vermont: thru 4/20
- Washington State: thru 4/08
In addition, even in the 38 states held hostage by hosted by HealthCare.Gov, as well as Idaho (which hasn't launched a COVID SEP either), millions of people still qualify for a normal Special Enrollment Period via any number of Qualifying Life Events, such as:
You may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period if you or anyone in your household in the past 60 days:
- Got married. Pick a plan by the last day of the month and your coverage can start the first day of the next month.
- Had a baby, adopted a child, or placed a child for foster care. Your coverage can start the day of the event — even if you enroll in the plan up to 60 days afterward.
- Got divorced or legally separated and lost health insurance. Note: Divorce or legal separation without losing coverage doesn’t qualify you for a Special Enrollment Period.
- Died. You’ll be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period if someone on your Marketplace plan dies and as a result you’re no longer eligible for your current health plan.
Household moves that qualify you for a Special Enrollment Period:
- Moving to a new home in a new ZIP code or county
- Moving to the U.S. from a foreign country or United States territory
- If you're a student, moving to or from the place you attend school
- If you're a seasonal worker, moving to or from the place you both live and work
- Moving to or from a shelter or other transitional housing
You may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period if you or anyone in your household lost qualifying health coverage in the past 60 days OR expects to lose coverage in the next 60 days.
- Losing job-based coverage
- Losing individual health coverage for a plan or policy you bought yourself
- Losing eligibility for Medicaid or CHIP
- Losing eligibility for Medicare
- Losing coverage through a family member
In addition, if you're eligible for Medicaid or CHIP you can enroll at any time throughout the year. You can also enroll in an ACA exchange plan at any time if you're a member of a federally-recognized Native American tribe or an Alaskan Native.
Finally, eligible Minnesota, New York and Massachusetts residents can enroll at any time in MinnesotaCare, the Essential Plan or ConnectorCare plans respectively.