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Trump: 10 Million New Jobless Will Get 'Something Much Better Than Obamacare'. Someday. When He Invents It.
Why would he okay a special enrollment period? Only Democrats and some Republican governors and the insurance companies are asking him to!
The Trump administration has looked carefully at the needs of the American people and decided against reopening enrollment for Affordable Care Act insurance plans. Reopening the Healthcare.gov website just isn't a thing that's needed, for some reason, even though new unemployment figures released today show another 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment last week, doubling the already record numbers from the previous week. Politico reports that it "wasn't immediately clear why the Trump administration decided against the special enrollment period," although we should probably note it may have something to do with Donald Trump's desire to eliminate everything Barack Obama ever did, and why would he change that just because millions of people are losing their jobs and facing a terrible illness?
Now, under the ACA, it's already possible for people who have lost their insurance to sign up for health insurance, but as the New York Times explains, a special enrollment period now would cut through some red tape and help more people, because those who've lost employer-provided insurance
are required to provide proof that they lost their coverage. A special enrollment period would have made it easier for such people to enroll, because it would not require that paperwork. It also would have provided a new option for people who chose not to buy health insurance this year but want it now.
Not surprisingly, the Times notes, the administration also hasn't publicized the availability of ACA plans for those who've been laid off, either. That would just get more people covered by insurance at a time when the administration is pushing ahead with that lawsuit aimed at completely eliminating the ACA. As recently as March 22, Trump insisted that would be all for the best, because "What we want to do is get rid of the bad health care and put in a great health care." Let's just remind you that Trump has no replacement of any kind lined up, but he's certain that if the ACA is demolished during a pandemic, he can whip up something wonderful in a jiffy.
During yesterday's alleged coronavirus press conference, Fox News reporter John Roberts asked why the administration wasn't planning on reopening the national healthcare exchange, a step that many states who run their own exchanges have already taken.
Without opening the health care insurance, where can they find insurance? People who aren't insured by these companies that are covering the cost of the copays, where can people go now to get health insurance if/before they get sick?
Vice President Mike Pence offered a long non-answer that didn't mention Obamacare at all, praising Dear Leader for working closely with insurance companies (who have also been asking for a special ACA enrollment period ) and pointing out that "we have Medicaid for underprivileged Americans," presumably if they prove themselves to be the deserving poor. Trump praised Pence's artful dodging, because that's how you handle nosy reporters:
I think it's one of the greatest answers I've ever heard. Because Mike was able to speak for five minutes and not even touch your question. That's what you call a great professional.
Trump also said maybe he'd do something, in the way he always says when he won't do a goddamn thing. It's "something we're really going to look at because it doesn't seem fair," and damned if that didn't lead to excessively optimistic headlines like this, from healthcare journalists who should know better by now: "Trump hints ACA enrollment should be reopened as a matter of fairness." Similarly, Politico suggested — while acknowledging Trump had only spoken in very vague terms — that Trump just might use other federal programs, like Medicare and Medicaid, to expand coverage for people needing coronavirus care. Or maybe it was all gaslighting, who can possibly know?
Trump also suggested, noncommittally, that he might be open to expanding coverage in a future stimulus bill, which again was less solid than his repeated empty promises that he'd replace the ACA with something terrific that would cover everyone.
Democrats, such as Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, have called for a special ACA enrollment period to be included in the stimulus bills. Booker released a statement Wednesday in which he demanded the exchanges be reopened by Congress in its next coronavirus package, saying, "At a time when our health care system is already under enormous strain, it makes no sense to willingly allow even more individuals to go without coverage."
So needless to say, Trump flat out lied at yesterday's presser and said Democrats haven't even mentioned expanding healthcare during this crisis:
They're talking about it in the 2020 election too and nobody's gotten to it. Nobody's talked about it at all. I think we're going to get to it. I don't think the other group will get to it. They haven't even spoken about it.
You know, apart from the Democrats who have been calling for a reopening of Obamacare enrollment, and the Democratic stimulus bill that would have mandated no out-of-pocket costs for COVID-19 treatment, including for people who have no insurance. Or the 11 states and the District of Columbia that have reopened their own state-run exchanges and called on the federal government to do the same. Or the Democratic governors of Michigan, New Jersey, and Oregon, plus the Republican governors of Arizona and New Hampshire, who have also requested that Trump open a special enrollment period.
Other than those folks, plus the goddamned insurance industry and a swarm of consumer and healthcare advocacy groups, nobody's really mentioned expanding the availability of healthcare just now. Maybe Trump will come up with a beautiful plan. How about work requirements for Medicaid recipients, who need to get out more anyway?
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