Michigan’s U.S. senators sent a letter to the Trump administration Friday requesting a special health insurance enrollment window in response the coronavirus outbreak.
Sens. Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow said about 27.5 million Americans are currently uninsured, which means they could face “expensive medical bills if hospitalized for coronavirus.”
“We are deeply concerned that individuals and families will be forced to choose between getting tested and seeking care for COVID-19 to protect themselves, their families, and communities from further spread and being left with thousands of dollars in bills that they are unable to pay,” they write in their letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma.
The open enrollment period for 2020 plans ran from November 1 to December 15, 2019, and saw 8.3 million people purchase a plan or re-enroll. Special enrollment periods are already provided for people who lose their coverage, move, get married, have a child, or adopt a child.
Peters and Stabenow asked the Trump administration to “allow individuals who are at-risk for COVID-19 to access affordable health care options through the health insurance marketplaces with a special enrollment period.”
“In addition, when the uninsured or underinsured are unable to pay their medical bills, it is health care providers who are left to make up the shortfall. Health care providers are already relying on emergency resources to pay for increased capacity and medical supplies in order to be prepared for further spread of COVID-19,” their letter continues.
As of Saturday afternoon, the United States had 2,466 confirmed cases of the virus and 50 deaths. Michigan’s total is now 25 after nine new cases were announced Friday night.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order Friday banning all public gatherings in excess of 250 people and closing all K-12 public schools until April 6.
“Patients must have access to affordable health insurance that will cover needed health care services for testing and treatment, especially now, when the broader public health is at risk,” Peters and Stabenow conclude their letter. “While there are many unknowns about how this outbreak will progress in the United States, we can certainly all agree that increasing the rate of insurance coverage will be critical to managing this outbreak and the expenses associated with increased need for health care services, such as costly hospitalizations.”
At least three states that operate their own health insurance exchanges have opened special enrollment periods in response to the virus.
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