WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, President Joe Biden signed an executive order on health care that opens a “Special Enrollment Period” for Americans to sign up for healthcare coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and changes rules related to Medicaid. Hadley Heath Manning, Independent Women’s Forum policy director and health policy expert, released the following statement:
“Policymakers understand that the reason the Affordable Care Act instituted an open enrollment period in the first place was to discourage consumers from signing up for coverage only when they get sick. Of course, the extenuating circumstances of the pandemic have put many Americans in difficult and uncertain circumstances regarding their health and financial security. That said, reopening the open enrollment window is not likely to mitigate this, as qualifying life events, such as job loss, always trigger an opportunity to enroll in ACA coverage. What Americans really need are better, more affordable options for health insurance—options destroyed by the ACA—not just more time to sign up.
“Similarly, any effort to make Medicaid more accessible misses the point: Having Medicaid doesn’t prevent anyone from developing COVID, nor does it promise better health outcomes more broadly. Instead, making it easier to enroll in Medicaid invites more Americans onto a social safety net that is already stretched too thin and is thereby failing those who depend on it most. And sadly, the move to reduce states’ flexibility to customize the Medicaid program for their populations is a misguided move that will get in the way of positive state-level reforms that would actually strengthen the program for the sick and vulnerable poor.
“A better direction for health reform would be for President Biden to focus on transparency and choice for patients, as the Trump administration did. Biden has signaled support for healthcare price transparency; the real test will be whether he preserves the transformative price transparency policies put into place by his predecessor. We are watching with hope that this positive reform will ultimately be allowed to work in patients’ favor, resulting in more information, more certainty, and perhaps most importantly, lower costs and better access to care.”