Rep. Wild Co-Leads Bicameral Legislation to Create Special Health Care Enrollment Session During COVID-19 Crisis

March 23, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTONToday, on the tenth anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, and as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Representative Susan Wild (PA-07) co-lead bicameral legislation alongside authors Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), and Rep. Lloyd Doggett (TX-35) to require a special enrollment period any time there is a public health emergency declaration, such as COVID-19, and to require insurance plans to cover any treatments and services related to said outbreak. They were joined in leading this effort by Reps. Brendan Boyle (D-PA), Mike Doyle (D-PA), and Dwight Evans (D-PA), and Diana DeGette (D-CO).


“Every single American should have the right to quality and affordable health care, especially when one individual’s health can have such serious consequences for broader public health,” Wild said. “Right now, people need health care coverage and the freedom to get better, more comprehensive coverage without waiting until the next open enrollment period. I’m proud to help co-lead an effort to open the enrollment period during this pandemic so that individuals are not left uninsured or underinsured.”


On March 13th, Rep. Wild signed onto a letter led by Rep. Doggett urging Secretary Azar to use his existing authority to establish a Special Enrollment Period for COVID-19. Letter text can be found here. It has gone unanswered.  


“The Affordable Care Act is an invaluable tool in combatting the coronavirus pandemic. Let’s give more Americans an opportunity to access affordable health care, especially those who missed last year’s Trump-narrowed and little federally-publicized enrollment period. And for those who have discovered that the junk, short-term insurance plan they purchased is really junk, this represents an opportunity to secure genuine health insurance,” Doggett said. “With a public health emergency spreading like wildfire, we need to equip our uninsured and underinsured neighbors with the ability to protect and care for their families. Our entire communities are strengthened by expanding the ability of the health insurance market to respond.”


“Our Nation is facing a public health crisis, yet millions of Americans remain uninsured,” Casey said. “That’s why I introduced the Ensuring Coverage in Public Health Emergencies Act of 2020 to provide for special enrollment periods during public health emergencies like the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. We must ensure that hard working families don’t go into financial ruin in order to pay for testing or treatment simply because they don’t have insurance.”


The Ensuring Coverage in Public Health Emergencies Act of 2020 would lower the barriers to care for patients and provide predictability and assurance for families, particularly in a public health emergency. This means allowing people to enroll in plans that provide comprehensive benefits, regardless of whether they are healthy or, in this case, diagnosed with COVID-19. With this bill, under the declaration of a Public Health Emergency by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Secretary would:


  • Establish a special enrollment period of at least 30 days, open to anyone who wants to enroll and can be extended at the Secretary’s discretion;
  • Ensure that patients can get prevention, diagnostics and treatment comparable to what they might expect for similar services outside of a public health emergency;
  • Waive restrictions and limitations on access to covered benefits, such as prior authorization requirements and limitations on filling or refilling prescription drugs, when the services are determined to be medically necessary by the patient’s health care provider and such restrictions are determined to be unduly burdensome by the Secretary.