Reps. Wild, Doggett, Bustos Author Legislation to Ensure Special Enrollment Session for Marketplace Coverage During COVID-19

April 22, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Yesterday, U.S. Representatives Susan Wild (PA-07), a member of the House Committee on Education and Labor, Lloyd Doggett (TX-35), Chairman of the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, and Cheri Bustos (IL-17), a member of the House Appropriations Committee, introduced legislation to require a special enrollment period for COVID-19.


“Every single American deserves health care, especially in times in which an individual’s health affects our larger 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 this effort to lower barriers and allow people to get the coverage they need by opening the enrollment period during this pandemic so that individuals are not left uninsured or underinsured.”


“Uninsured and underinsured neighbors need help now to protect themselves, especially those who missed last year’s Trump-narrowed and little federally-publicized enrollment period or those who have discovered that the junk, short-term insurance plan they purchased is really junk need coverage,” 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. We are all healthier when we are all healthy.”


“As our nation continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more critical than ever that Americans are able to access affordable health care coverage,” Bustos said. “In Illinois, hundreds of thousands of residents are uninsured while many across our state and nation face an uncertain financial future. Right now, no one should hesitate to seek the care they need and we must work to remove any barriers to accessible care. I’m proud to sponsor this legislation to help those currently uninsured and underinsured protect themselves during our country’s time of need. I’ll continue to work to deliver affordable, accessible health care to all.”


On March 13th, Wild joined a letter with more than 100 of her colleagues in urging Secretary Azar to use his existing authority to establish a Special Enrollment Period for COVID-19.


“Many among the close to 30 million Americans living without insurance and estimated 44 million who are underinsured would benefit from such a declaration,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter. “As outbreaks emerge and community spread continues in the United States, our most vulnerable neighbors are those who lack comprehensive health coverage. Without that coverage, they are unlikely to seek treatment for COVID-19, leaving all in our community at risk.”


This legislation would lower the barriers to care for patients and provide predictability and assurance for families. 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.