Tester to Trump: Authorize ACA Special Enrollment Period So Montanans Can Access Health Care During Crisis

Senator working to ensure seniors & 9,000 Montanans who lost coverage amid pandemic can access critical health care

As part of his continued efforts to ensure that Montanans are able to access health care through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), U.S. Senator Jon Tester and a group of his colleagues recently revived their demand that the President authorize a special enrollment period (SEP) for the ACA so millions of Americans who have lost coverage due to COVID-19—including approximately 9,000 Montanans—can sign up for the critical program.

Following up on an April letter urging the Trump Administration to open up health care access to workers who lost coverage due to coronavirus and to seniors who are not enrolled in Medicare, Tester and his colleagues wrote to the President about the dangers of allowing millions of Americans to go without health care in the midst of a global public health and economic crisis.

“It is clear that many people who want insurance are not able to purchase it because you have chosen not to offer a [Special Enrollment Period], and many of the millions of Americans who have recently become uninsured due to job losses are unaware that they qualify for federally-subsidized health care coverage,” wrote Tester and his colleagues in a letter to President Trump. “…Additionally, every year there are tens of thousands of recent retirees and seniors in this country, who for one reason or another, fail to enroll in Medicare… Given everything we know about COVID-19 and how it has devastated our seniors, it is essential that all older Americans can secure access to health coverage—without gaps or delay.”

The Senators continued: “The urgent need for comprehensive, affordable health care coverage has only increased since we wrote to you in April to request that you open an ACA SEP. We urge that you take seriously the challenges that millions of people are facing in our country and reopen enrollment for the federally-run ACA Marketplace and to utilize the tools you have to ensure access to the Medicare Program.”

According to a study by Families USA, between February and May, an estimated 5.4 million workers became uninsured because of job losses, and the report estimates that around 600,000 of those workers would sign up for insurance if a special enrollment period was announced. About 37 percent of people who lost their jobs from March 1st to May 2nd, 2020 in states that rely on HealthCare.gov would need an SEP to obtain coverage.

A staunch advocate for expanding access to quality affordable care, Tester has railed against the Administration’s attempts to gut America’s health care system and worked tirelessly to improve it. Last year, the Trump Administration went against Congressional intent by issuing a statement endorsing a judge’s ruling in the Texas v. United States lawsuit—a move that Tester strongly opposed. The decision deemed the individual mandate provision of the ACA unconstitutional, striking down the health care law entirely.

Tester also pushed the Department of Justice to halt its efforts to undermine the nation’s health care system, and called on Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to conduct a comprehensive review of the consequences of dismantling the ACA and assess the impacts of overturning the law at the federal, state, and local levels. Tester also recently introduced a resolution demanding the Department of Justice defend the ACA in court and halt efforts to repeal health care protections for millions.

Read Tester’s full letter to President Trump HERE.