There can be no question that President Donald Trump simply doesn't care how many people die in this coronavirus pandemic. There's no other explanation for why he chose to counter the advice of health officials and keep the Affordable Care Act marketplace closed. Politico reports that insurers—who had endorsed a special enrollment period and been in talks with administration officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)—expected Trump to announce open enrollments last Friday based on those conversations. He didn't. Politico reports that it is not "immediately clear why the Trump administration decided against the special enrollment period." But here's a hint: "CMS deferred comment to the White House."
That can't mean anything other than it was Trump's decision. Trump did say last week that he's still fully behind the Republican lawsuit before the Supreme Court that could completely upend Obamacare and with it much of the health care system. Nothing about this pandemic has made him change his number one goal: "win" his grudge match against President Barack Obama by erasing his most significant achievement. The White House didn't comment, other than to say the administration is "exploring other options." Spoiler alert: It's not.
Twelve states, including the District of Columbia, which run their own marketplaces for individual insurance under the law, have created special enrollment periods to get their uninsured people covered to help them through this epidemic. They're encouraging the uninsured and the underinsured who fell for Trumpcare junk plans to get new, fully ACA-compliant insurance. The Trump administration weakened the ACA by making those junk plans, often sold by insurance brokers alongside real health insurance, more widely available and lasting for a longer term.
There are options for newly unemployed workers under Medicaid and SCHIP, and for higher-wage unemployed continued coverage on their employer-based plan with COBRA. This is under the federal law known as the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. That option is an expensive one, however, because individuals have to pay the full cost of their premiums, which means their portion AND the portion their employer paid.
The second bill passed by Congress at least secures free testing for coronavirus, but the Democratic House couldn't get the Republican Senate to agree to free treatment for people who are uninsured. They're going to have to do that now. Period.